Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George has been rumored to have a desire in joining his hometown Los Angeles Lakers for almost a year now. It’s interest the team has reportedly been “confident” it can use to sign him come the summer.
But George joining the Lakers is far from a guarantee. The All-Star will have plenty of options in free agency, including re-signing with the Thunder to continue playing alongside reigning MVP Russell Westbrook.
It sounds like there is at least a chance that’s exactly what George could do. He reiterated to reporters that how the Thunder do in the playoffs won’t influence his free agency choice, via Royce Young of ESPN:
“I could see myself being here. I’ve been happy here, I’m happy with the organization, I’m happy with my teammates. You know our record is not what we want it to be, but I think I’ve enjoyed just learning and being around these guys. My answer is still the same: I’m not going to let playoffs or how we finish this season persuade or indicate where I’m going to go this offseason. I put everything into this, and again, I could definitely see myself here.”
George also said Andre Roberson’s injury was one of several factors that have him feeling like this Thunder team can improve next season with more chemistry and potentially even some free agency additions that he, Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony could recruit:
“This is our first year together, this is year one for this group. We’ve got a chance to win it all, but realistically it takes time for teams to build chemistry and mesh… This wasn’t ‘championship or bust’ coming into this for me. It was just an opportunity for me to see what it’s like to be here and just to naturally fall in love with it. And it’s been that.”
“You got to look at everything. You’ve got to look at who we would be if Andre (Roberson) was here playing with us … You’ve got to look at the team coming back and with free agency coming up, look at other guys who we could possibly go grab. Who could we, myself, Melo, Russ, who could we recruit here with us. You’ve got to look at everything.”
George surely will look at everything before he decides whether to return home, re-sign in OKC or head somewhere else, and he also likely won’t make his decision until then.
And while George might be saying this current Thunder team’s playoff fate won’t influence where he stays or goes in free agency, how could it not? If he sees that the Thunder don’t even make the postseason or get blown out of the water in the first round, why wouldn’t he want to see if the grass is greener elsewhere?
Especially if it’s in a place like Los Angeles, which not only features literal greener grass, but is more pleasant to live in in general and would offer him a chance to have the ball more often as well.
We’ll all have to wait until this summer to see what actually matters to George, but for now it sounds like things really could go either way, which is probably exactly what he wants.