The Los Angeles Lakers entered into the offseason with more salary cap space than any other team in the NBA, which allowed them to dream big.
They had the ability bring in not just one but two max-contract free agents, with the conventional wisdom being that their targets would be LeBron James and Paul George. Now, with free agency all but over, the Lakers are celebrating their good fortune in signing James, who is undoubtedly the best player in the game.
However, while they reeled in the biggest prize on the market, their dream of landing two stars didn’t come to fruition thanks to George opting to re-sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
It was a head-scratching decision from the Southern California native that left some questioning whether or not he realized that James would be Los Angeles-bound just hours after George announced his intentions.
According to Marc J. Spears of ESPN, George apparently knew exactly what he was turning down when he spurned the Lakers in free agency:
He also acknowledged having an expectation that NBA star LeBron James would sign with the Lakers as a free agent. So why didn’t George give the Lakers a meeting in free agency? “It was absolutely tempting,” George said. “Honestly, I wanted to come back home. But again, I got traded to Oklahoma. Loved the situation. Loved where I was at. I decided to stick around a little longer.”
George announced his decision to stay in Oklahoma City just before free agency began, opting to not even meet with his hometown team. He became comfortable with Oklahoma City and playing alongside Russell Westbrook, and apparently believes they give him the best chance to win.
Of course, it’s difficult for most to argue that playing alongside Westbrook offers a better chance to win a championship than James would, but as a free agent, George is allowed to make his own decisions regarding his future.
After appearing to be Lakers-bound for over a year only to reverse course when the time to jump came to pass, it’s going to be interesting to see what kind of response George draws when his Thunder come to Los Angeles next season.