While the Los Angeles Lakers saw their season come to an end by missing the playoffs for a fifth consecutive year, the fan base nonetheless has kept a keen eye on the NBA action. Specifically, LeBron James and Paul George, as the two All-Stars will become free agents this summer.
George and James have long been speculated as the Lakers’ top free agent targets. Of course, George has reportedly been on the team’s radar since his days with the Indiana Pacers. There was thought he would force his way to Los Angeles, but Indiana instead traded George to the Oklahoma City.
He represented a beacon of hope for a franchise that was looking to climb back up the mountain after watching Kevin Durant sign with the Golden State Warriors. The Thunder didn’t stop at acquiring George, as they also traded for Carmelo Anthony.
But their version of a ‘big three’ never quite gelled, and the Thunder went up in flames in a Game 6 loss to the Utah Jazz that eliminated them from the playoffs.
Predictably, George was asked about his forthcoming free agency. Like he did during the regular season, George expressed a strong desire to re-sign with the Thunder but said a decision will be made in the weeks and months ahead, via ESPN’s Royce Young:
Paul George on his upcoming summer: "It's too soon. I'd love to remain a Thunder, but that's what the summer is for. We'll address that this summer."
— Royce Young (@royceyoung) April 28, 2018
In February, George said he would not rule out any potential scenarios in free agency. In the time since he’s also acknowledged needing to factor in what’s best for his family. Being a Southern California native, that fueled anticipation of George eventually signing with the Lakers.
President of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka stressed the team isn’t restricted to only making a splash in terms of 2018 free agents. Nonetheless, the Lakers are believed to have their focus on signing George and James, rather than waiting for the class of 2019.