Leading up to 2018 NBA free agency, the general consensus was Paul George would sign with the Los Angeles Lakers and in turn that would aid their pitch to LeBron James. In reality, George re-signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder, but James made the move out West anyhow.
Upon attempting to force his way out from the Indiana Pacers, George and his agent reportedly were informing teams of an intention to sign with the Lakers. George was cheered for like a member of the Lakers during visits to Staples Center, and it was treatment he reveled in.
Oklahoma City nevertheless rolled the dice on a potential one-year rental and reaped the benefits. George pointed to their willingness to take the risk, along with a strong relationship formed with Russell Westbrook and the front office as reasons behind his decision to spurn the Lakers.
While the development was surprising, it’s not something Lakers head coach Luke Walton dwells on as he instead is grateful for James joining the team, via the Lakers Twitter account:
“I don’t think much of that. … It doesn’t matter. You prep yourself, you do your work and then whatever’s gonna happen is gonna happen. You don’t get too emotionally attached to it. We went after players, LeBron decided to come, Paul didn’t. That’s our team now. We’re very happy we have LeBron James on our team.”
George presumably will be met with hearty boos on Wednesday during pregame introductions and possessions in which he touches the ball. Though, that may further fuel the 28-year-old who is in the midst of a career season that’s put him in the MVP discussion.
George is averaging 26.4 points and 8.2 rebounds per game, both of which are career highs. His 4.1 assists is tied for a personal-best mark. Oklahoma City enters play 23-13, in third place in the Western Conference standings and 1.5 games back of the Denver Nuggets for first place.
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