After five years of rebuilding, it appeared Paul George was going to be the All-Star player the Los Angeles Lakers finally signed.
When George informed the Indiana Pacers he would not re-sign with them following the 2017-18 NBA season in hopes of playing for his hometown team, they traded him to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.
Despite being viewed as just a one-year rental, George did not meet with the Lakers and immediately re-signed with the Thunder in free agency.
At Team USA minicamp, the 28-year-old detailed his thought process and explained he still views the Lakers franchise in high regard, via Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated:
“My feelings for the Lakers are the same. I love the organization, I love the history, I love the legacy,” George said. “But being around Sam, being around Russ, being around [coach] Billy [Donovan], [Andre Roberson], Steven [Adams], I gained a brotherhood. [Giving that group only] one year just didn’t sit well with me. I went to war, I went to battle, we made the playoffs, we were in the hunt, and we stuck together all year long. You never heard of any turmoil, no matter how we played, in the locker room. We built a real brotherhood there and I didn’t want to walk away from that.”
Shortly after George’s decision, LeBron James signed a four-year, $153 million contract with the Lakers. While it was a surprise James signed without another All-Star player’s commitment, the length of the contract allows Los Angeles to be patient.
Instead of immediately trading the young core for Kawhi Leonard, the Lakers will have an opportunity to sign him in free agency. With James, a young core, and potentially Leonard for the 2019-20 season, Los Angeles will have a team that is capable of winning in the short- and long-term.
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