When the Oklahoma City Thunder acquired Paul George from the Indiana Pacers last summer, they were widely viewed as a stop along the road to his eventual return home. George reportedly expressed a desire to be traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, but the Pacers declined to honor it.
Still looking to recover from Kevin Durant departing in free agency the year prior, Oklahoma City went a step further and traded for Carmelo Anthony. The trio of All-Stars led to tempered excitement for the team.
The hope was a successful season and playoffs would have a strong influence on George come free agency. Instead, the team struggled to gel throughout the year, and they were eliminated by the Utah Jazz in the first round.
George isn’t set to officially become a free agent until July, but he’s already — again — facing questions about what the future may bring.
While it’s been widely speculated George will sign with the Lakers, he raved about the Thunder organization being one that satisfies his list of important areas, via The Oklahoman:
“I haven’t been in the position to be in a free agent or know what it’s like to have the chance to go where you want to go. That’s always been I feel players, they want that option. Then you get into an organization where they kind of check all the boxes of what you want out of an organization, and immediately they become a candidate where you want to play long-term. That’s been the case here. They honestly checked the boxes where I needed those boxes to be checked. From what a player wants and needs out of a front office, from medical group, out of teammates, out of coaching staff, honestly, I can’t say it any more than that. They checked the boxes.”
Immediately after the Thunder lost Game 6 to the Jazz, George stated he had a strong desire to re-sign with the team. It wasn’t the first time he’s openly embraced the possibility of remaining with the Thunder.
Of course, the Southern California native has also mentioned needing to make a decision that is best for his family. And when George and Thunder played at Staples Center this season, he voiced his appreciation for the treatment Lakers fans gave him.