The summer of 2018 was a game-changing one for the Los Angeles Lakers. The franchise set themselves up to sign two max-level players and most expected one of those to be Oklahoma City Thunder wing Paul George.
A Southern California native, George had long been rumored to want to join his hometown franchise, but instead of trading for him the year prior, the Lakers were content with waiting until he hit free agency.
Unfortunately for the Lakers, that backfired as George’s year in Oklahoma City with Russell Westbrook made enough of an impact to make him want to stay. George did exactly that, agreeing to a four-year deal with the Thunder without even meeting with the Lakers or anyone else for that matter.
George has been open about his thought process throughout his free agency and recently discussed it again with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, admitting that things changed when he ended up in OKC and he never thought about LeBron James’ future:
“Not necessarily. At the time, I wanted to go obviously play back in L.A. Regardless of what was going to happen. I didn’t care if I was the first one or only player to join the Lakers. It was just something about being back home, playing in front of a franchise I grew up watching. But then, you know, things change. You’re somewhere else for a year, get relationships and start to feel a part of something different.”
Of course the Lakers made out fine, signing James this summer, but things would be completely different had George joined him in Los Angeles. George is enjoying a career year this season with many placing him in the MVP conversation alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden.
The George saga is what many teams point to when trading for a superstar who supposedly only wants to go to one team.
The Thunder were able to change George’s mind and the Lakers likely wish they had traded for him initially, hence why the team was reportedly so willing to deal any of their young players for Anthony Davis. The Lakers don’t want to experience another letdown like they did with George.