When the Oklahoma City Thunder acquired Paul George last summer in a trade with the Indiana Pacers, it was very much viewed as a roll of the dice. George had long been linked to the Los Angeles Lakers, and he was on track to become a free agent in a year’s time.
The Thunder moved to put more talent around George and Russell Westbrook by trading for Carmelo Anthony. The hope was the trio would lead the team on a successful playoff run that could entice George to re-sign with the Thunder.
Instead, there were growing pains throughout the regular season, and a first-round exit at the hands of the Utah Jazz in the playoffs. Oklahoma City’s elimination came in particularly deflating fashion.
George scored just five points, Anthony had seven, and Westbrook scored 46 but took 43 shots. The circumstances surrounding their loss sent speculation about George’s free agency into overdrive.
Ryen Russillo shared on his ESPN show that the Southern California native is all but guaranteed to move on from the Thunder:
“Today is the first time I’ve heard from anybody that I trust, that George is gone. I don’t know where. It’s a, ‘He’s gone’ deal.”
Considering his long reported interest in the Lakers, many consider them the favorite to sign George. Though, he’s said the chance to compete for an NBA title is a top priority, and Thunder, despite flaming out this season, would appear to present a better case for that.
That being said, the Lakers could sign George and another max-level free agent, and immediately become a contender. At least on paper.
Despite the assertion that George will not re-sign with the Thunder, he recently raved about the organization and expressed a strong desire to remain with the team.