For more than a year the expectation held that Paul George would sign with the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency. He attempted to facilitate a trade there from the Indiana Pacers during the 2017 offseason, though was unsuccessful.
The Lakers ultimately decided against meeting the Pacers’ high demands because of the likelihood they’d be in position to sign George outright the following year. So despite informing teams he would join the Lakers in 2018 free agency, the Oklahoma City Thunder completed a trade with the Pacers.
The roll of the dice paid off in spades as he ultimately re-signed with Oklahoma City on a four-year, $137 million contract this summer. Not only did George spurn the Lakers, he didn’t so much as grant his hometown team a free agency meeting.
Although the process was abrupt and perhaps surprising for some, George suggested eventually signing with the Lakers remains a possibility even though they weren’t considered this summer, via the “Short Story Long” podcast with Chris ‘Drama’ Pfaff:
“I wanted to, man. Honestly, I wanted to. I wanted to come back home (in 2017). I’m 28; still got another contract.”
George made his remarks in response to Pfaff admitting on a personal level and “selfishly” that he hoped to see the five-time All-Star sign with the Lakers.
George’s contract would allow for him to opt out after the 2020-21 season. But that would entail leaving a guaranteed $37.8 million on the table. Should George not exercise his opt-out clause, he would be left on track to reach free agency at 31 years old.
While George didn’t give the Lakers serious consideration in free agency this summer, that he would potentially see a homecoming through isn’t too far fetched of an idea. After all, George has never hid his affinity for playing at Staples Center.
Plus, stranger things have happened in the NBA. Look no further than current Lakers forward LeBron James, who unceremoniously left the Cleveland Cavaliers in free agency, only to return, and move on for a second time.