The Los Angeles Lakers will have more salary cap space available to use in free agency this summer than any other team in the NBA, which will allow them to chase after superstars like Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George.
George, a Southern California native, has long been linked to the Lakers, and last summer tried to force a trade to his hometown team. Instead, the Indiana Pacers opted to send him to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
In some regard it was merely viewed as a delay to an eventual outcome. However, convincing George to leave Oklahoma City may not be as easy as some would think.
During his exit interview, George expressed a desire to speak with Thunder personnel prior to becoming a free agent, via The Oklahoman:
“Yeah. Again, I haven’t really put everything into perspective. I think the biggest thing is just trying to keep a relationship with Sam, continue to talk with Sam. Continue to talk with Billy, with Russ, and figure out the direction we want to go in as a group more so than anything. I think that’s the first thing I want to do before free agency or we get to that point. I want to know or be on the same page with those guys. That’s first and foremost, because we do have something special and we have something we can accomplish here.”
Of course, it should be noted that there have been conflicting reports, with some suggesting that George is on his way out the door, while quotes like these seem to show a willingness to stay with the Thunder.
With just under two months until the start of free agency, it’s anyone’s guess where George will eventually sign.
The Lakers will hope that the prospect of playing alongside young talents like Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and Lonzo Ball will be attractive, as will the opportunity to be near family in California. Plus, with even more money to spend, the team could theoretically bring in another top-flight talent to play alongside George.
On the other hand, the Thunder will bank upon George not wanting to leave the side of star guard Russell Westbrook. The only certainty is that it’s going to be a busy summer for both franchises and there will be a lot on the line.
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