As free agency began one of the Los Angeles Lakers’ main targets immediately came off the board as Paul George decided to re-sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Speculation had run rampant for over a year as most expected George to sign with his hometown Lakers this summer, but the Thunder were able to flip the script. So much so that George signed a four-year contract that includes a player option after the third year.
By not signing a contract that would allow him to opt out after two seasons, when George would reach 10 years of service time, he bypassed the opportunity to see a significant increase in salary.
George clearly enjoyed playing alongside superstar guard Russell Westbrook and decided that was going to be the best path for him.
At a party in Oklahoma City thrown by Westbrook and featuring Thunder officials, George announced to the crowd that he would staying with the Thunder, via Gabe Ikard:
You heard it here first. pic.twitter.com/jN6gBn6j1Z
— Gabe Ikard (@GabeIkard) July 1, 2018
George also took to Instagram to announce his return, stating that he and Westbrook have “unfinished business:”
For the Lakers, losing George without even getting a chance to meet with him has to be a disappointment. After all, president of basketball operations Magic Johnson figures to be a persuasive presence in free agent meetings.
However, that does not mean that all is lost for Los Angeles. The team will continue to focus on bringing in LeBron James and could attempt to find a workable trade with the San Antonio Spurs for star forward Kawhi Leonard.
Another option would be to target center DeMarcus Cousins, though his Achilles injury could give the team some hesitation.
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