OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER MEDIA CONFERENCE
July 12, 2017
Q. What has this past 24 hours been like for you, the party, the welcome?
PAUL GEORGE: It's been awesome. It's really been awesome. You can't script this up any other way of saying that this has really been an unbelievable trip here. I've been wild ever since we landed. I got a real welcoming, and this feels like home.
Q. Just your thoughts on the team, what you'll be able to put on the floor with the group that's already assembled and what you're joining.
PAUL GEORGE: I think defensively we could be pretty special. Having a guy like Russ at the point position who's night in and night out going to have a mismatch, as well as a defensive -- not mechanism but defensive-minded guy in Roberson and one of the best young defensive bigs in Adams, alongside with myself out there. We could be really special defensively.
But I'm going to add on to the fast pace, the fun, the quick, high energy, fast-tempo team that's always been here, just adding on into it. Looking forward to it, though. It should be fun.
Q. What were your initial thoughts (indiscernible)?
PAUL GEORGE: Yeah, well, it was just surprising this team wasn't one of the teams that was -- that we had in mind. We thought -- I thought I was going to like four or five other teams that were pretty active in the trade, and when I found out it was OKC, I was quite surprised, but at the same time, I was happy about the trade. I was thrilled. I was looking forward to it. You know, all I wanted was a chance and an opportunity to play for something special, and to ultimately try to win a championship. Right off the bat, I think I get that here playing alongside Russ.
We've had a lot of time to talk. Right after the trade I called him that night, and we kind of talked and went over the excitement of playing alongside one another, and yesterday we got a good time. We had a lot of time to talk, and it wasn't even about basketball, just vibing together and getting to know one another and I think creating a friendship there.
Q. How do you see this meshing, helping each other on the floor?
PAUL GEORGE: I think for myself, just running the floor, creating space for him to operate, it's so hard to keep in front of -- he's so hard to stay in front of, he's going to attract double teams night in and night out in almost every possession. So I think for myself, it'll be easy to space the floor and be a knock-down shooter for him. I think the opposite. I think I demand double teams, and a guy teams scout for and try to prep for. I think both of us -- he doesn't have to have that pressure of shouldering all the workload and have to feel he has to do it alone, as he never has, but I don't want him to have that pressure at all.
I think we'll work really well. Again, I'm excited about this journey with him, and I'm excited to rep those three letters.
PAUL GEORGE: Right now it's taking it as it comes. You know, we -- a fresh start and a chance to do something special is really the first thing that comes to mind. I'm not looking past 2017-2018. We haven't accomplished nothing yet, so you know, when it comes to that, when I get there, we'll address that, but right now me and Russ have something to build now, and you know, we'll see where it takes us. You know, it could be something that's special that we build and want to continue on building. So we'll wait to get to that.
Q. What was your relationship like with Russ before actually joining the Thunder?
PAUL GEORGE: We've been good friends. We've been good friends. Actually my rookie year, Russ had a why-not game that he does every year, and my rookie year I showed up to it, not even knowing, through a mutual friend. I had no clue where I was going, and he had no clue I was coming. It was kind of just a, hey, what's up. And then from there we just built on a relationship of knowing one another. You know, seeing him through competition, seeing him through All-Stars. We always have a connection being Southern Cal guys. So it was always energy there between us, but that's just where our friendship has been.
So now I'm looking forward to being a teammate.
Q. Is it too early yet to know what your expectations will be for the team big picture this season?
PAUL GEORGE: Yeah, I think so. I think so. We all have got to come together. I can't have an expectation of my own. I think we need to have a collective expectation of what we want out of this. So once we get together, we'll know what we want out of this. Obviously it's to win a championship, but hopefully we can build towards that, whether it's right away we get off to a hot start or we start to gain traction down the line. It's just about building.
Q. What, if anything, did Kevin tell you about his relationship with Russell or Russell specifically?
PAUL GEORGE: That's between them. That's between them. I didn't necessarily care -- everybody is different. I'm great friends with KD. Everybody is different, though. What KD and Russ had, from my understanding, was nothing major. Guys and brothers necessarily, you fight. This is a job where you want the best out of everybody, and you're going to bump heads. That's as far as I know and as far as I care to know about their relationship.
Q. In a recent Sports Illustrated article you talked about the appeal of going home, who wouldn't want to play for their home team. Have you ever considered that Oklahoma City could be a place where you and Russ could team up (indiscernible)?
PAUL GEORGE: Certainly. At the end of the day, all I want out of this is a chance. A chance every year to compete. You know, that's where it stemmed from of being linked to wanting to go home. Like I've been saying, I could come here and love it, as I have, been loving it here. If that's what -- at the end of the day, I know both myself and Russ are up at the same time. If we love where we're at and we feel that we could do something special here, I'm open to it. I'm open to it. But that'll be something we address at the end of the season.
Q. The PG-13 tee shirts, the messages on them, what did you feel about that?
PAUL GEORGE: Man, just the love. Just the love from day one. Getting off the plane and seeing 500 fans waiting outside, I've never been a part of something like that. So instantly I felt a connection here, and I got to go see the monument and get a little bit of taste of history here, and that drew me even closer to the connection here and the reasoning for the love and the passion. So I felt -- I don't want to say this too soon, but an Oklahoman. I felt the passion behind all of this.
You know, I love that connection that I have, and that's something that can't be replaced ever.
Q. Are you surprised (indiscernible)?
PAUL GEORGE: Not surprised. Not surprised. You always hear how great of a fan base it is here, and playing here you understand and you see it from afar, but to actually be a part of this now as opposed to being on the opposite, you get it, you understand the love here. You get why they're so passionate about this team. And again, I'm just happy that now I'm on the good side of that fence.
Q. Why do you think you and Russ will work well together, and how have you talked about making that work with each other and with Coach Donovan?
PAUL GEORGE: Well, I think I space the floor well for Russ and allow him to continue on being aggressive, and I take pressure off him as another ball handler, another scorer, another play maker, another defender. I think I help carry all of those burdens for him, just to make the game easier. I think we'll work really well. I'm not a selfish player at all. I'm really whatever the team needs of me or whatever that I need to do for the coach or for the team to be better. That's how I've always approached the game.
This will be the same scenario. It's no difference. Just now I'm playing alongside one of the best players in our league.
Q. What impresses you about Andre defensively, and how do you see that working together?
PAUL GEORGE: What impresses me is he plays the game on the other side of the ball how I do, and that's just being a pest, all over the ball, not taking anything. He's just going to be all over you, and he's fiery. He has an edge. He reminds me of myself playing on the perimeter. To have two guys, Russ, as well, three guys on the perimeter that leave it all on the defensive end is going to be special.
Q. What have your conversations been like with Coach Donovan?
PAUL GEORGE: Conversations have been good. We've had talks of what I liked offensively at Indiana. We went over plays, scenarios. We went over what he wants from me and what is expected out of me, in a light way. And we've just been able just to kind of know one another, knowing backgrounds, upbringings. Really it's the initial greeting sort of thing. But yeah, it's -- he just wants to make this as easy as possible for me to come into a situation and to make me comfortable as possible.
Q. How much of what Westbrook does with his future and his contract impact what you do?
PAUL GEORGE: I think, you know, we'll both have to address this off-season. Hopefully we can address it together, that we enjoy this process and enjoy what we've built, to want to make decisions based off one another.
Q. Probably your best statistical season, four-time All-Star. What have you learned as you've been in this league, both maybe that's key to your success but team success, as well?
PAUL GEORGE: Just learned who I am as a player, I think. You know, again, I've gotten better every season that I've been in this league, and it's just been going through it. You understand and you learn certain things, and you apply it to the next year, and that's always how I've been. Every season I go back and I reflect and just analyze what I could have done better, and I address it immediately in the gym or in the weight room, whatever it is, working on my body, working on my game. I always address it in the summer. That's what helps, has gotten me to this point where I'm ready for this moment, and I'm ready to compete for a championship, as I've always been. But now I'm ready to do so with, again, one of the best players in the world and the MVP. I've never had this kind of help. I've never been a teammate of this caliber. So man, as I've been saying, the sky's the limit, and hopefully we make magic happen.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports