The Los Angeles Lakers will host the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Staples Center for the first time on Jan. 2, 2019, which will mark Paul George’s first appearance since re-signing on a four-year, $137 million contract in free agency.
After informing the Indiana Pacers he would not re-sign in free agency, they traded George to the Thunder for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. Despite the circumstances, the notion was the 28-year-old would eventually find his way to his hometown team.
Even though the Thunder lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Utah Jazz, George did not even meet with Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka at the start of free agency.
Instead, he returned to Oklahoma City and immediately announced his return at Russell Westbrook’s party.
As George was consistently viewed as the All-Star player to help the storied franchise return to their championship ways, it was LeBron James who ended up signing a four-year, $153 million contract without a guarantee of another player like George Kawhi Leonard joining him in Los Angeles.
With the 2018-19 NBA schedule officially released, the Lakers will play the Portland Trail Blazers on Nov. 18 in their season opener and the Houston Rockets on Nov. 20 in the home opener.
Although there is currently no rivalry between the Lakers and the Thunder, things could get interesting as both teams are looking to win championships. While George grew up a Kobe Bryant and Lakers fan, he will likely receive plenty of boos when he returns to his hometown moving forward.