Paul George took the NBA news world by storm early this summer when he told the Indiana Pacers that he plans on leaving when he becomes a free agent in 2018, with the intention of joining his hometown Los Angeles Lakers.
Although George was reportedly ‘hell-bent’ on going to the Lakers, the Pacers wound up trading him to the Oklahoma City Thunder, allowing him to team up with reigning MVP Russell Westbrook.
Despite being traded to a playoff team in Oklahoma City, many thought George would still be bound for L.A. in a year, but that may have changed this past week when the Thunder traded for Carmelo Anthony, giving them a roster that could possibly compete with the Golden State Warriors for supremacy in the Western Conference.
In a recent interview with Sam Amick of USA Today, George responded to the comments about him being hell-bent on joining the Lakers:
“You ask anybody, and who wouldn’t want to play for their hometown team?” George explained. “Who wouldn’t want to go home and win a championship for their home? So yeah, a lot of me wanted to be a Laker. Even in the draft, coming out of the draft, I wanted to be a Clipper, to have a chance to play at home…(But) I’m not solely tied to LA.”
George went on to add that winning a championship is the most important thing to him, even more than playing for his hometown team:
“Absolutely, absolutely, absolutely,” George said when asked if winning was above the Lakers on his list of priorities. “Winning takes precedence over all of it. That’s the ultimate happiness. It’s not location. It’s not stardom. It’s not ‘where can I make the most money.’ It’s winning, and winning championships.
“That’s ultimately what, as a kid, I looked at as the best fit and the biggest thing. I haven’t won on any level, besides the (2016) Olympics (in Rio). I haven’t won a championship in high school. I haven’t won a championship in college (at Fresno State). I don’t know what that feels like.”
While it seemed like a foregone conclusion that George would be signing with the Lakers next summer, and possibly even Westbrook could join him as well, that may no longer be the case if the Thunder find a way to gel together as a team and make a playoff run.
But with the summer of 2018 still a year away, a lot can happen between now and then so it remains to be seen where George will end up long term.