After a year of conflicting reports, Paul George took the first step in reaching free agency by declining his $20.7 million player option with the Oklahoma City Thunder for the 2018-19 NBA season.
As George will officially become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, the Los Angeles Lakers will be among the teams interested in him. While the 28-year-old has had interest in playing for his hometown team, much has changed after one season in Oklahoma City with Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony.
Heading into free agency, there is uncertainty surrounding George even signing with the Lakers now. However, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Lakers and Thunder will be teams George mulls over signing with:
George, who will decline a $20.7 million salary for the 2018-19 season, remains seriously interested in returning to the Thunder in free agency, league sources said. The Los Angeles Lakers will receive serious consideration too, sources said.
Since the Lakers waited for George to become a free agent, there were risks associated with this decision. It allowed the Thunder the entire 2017-18 season to persuade him to re-sign even though they lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Utah Jazz.
For president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka, the focus is on a potential Kawhi Leonard trade with the San Antonio Spurs. If they somehow land Leonard, it would reportedly set up LeBron James signing and the opportunity to play with two All-Stars could influence George to Los Angeles.
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