While the Oklahoma City Thunder just added Paul George to Russell Westbrook’s team, could both OKC players head to the Los Angeles Lakers after this NBA season? For months, L.A. Lakers rumors suggested that Paul George would be eventually headed to play for the gold and purple. George flat out admitted his desire to play for Magic’s team at the end of this upcoming season. Several teams started popping up as contenders to acquire the All-Star in a trade with Indiana looking to find a deal before “PG-13” could leave their roster. Surprisingly, Oklahoma City was rarely mentioned in those rumors, but now the Thunder have come away as the winners, at least for a season it seems.
As USA Today reported on Saturday, the Oklahoma City Thunder will reportedly offer Westbrook a five-year supermax contract extension valued at $217 million. That would make it one of the top deals for any player in the league. However, the 2017 NBA MVP doesn’t have to sign right away, as he has a deadline of the start of the 2017-18 NBA season to make that decision. While most fans will think Westbrook should sign right away and get paid, there’s also that slim possibility that he will keep his options open, along with the Thunder’s potential “one season rental” star Paul George.
In a recent NBA TV Facebook video featuring NBA journalist David Aldridge, the recent trade between OKC and Indiana is discussed. Aldridge also mentioned during the segment that Russell Westbrook was set to be offered a max contract deal by his current team in order for them to prevent him leaving as a free agent. However, Aldridge speculates that Westbrook could potentially decline to sign on that deal which would give him the option to leave town at the end of this season. The NBA journalist goes on to say “Very few free agents these days go to a place by themselves,” referring to the possibility that Westbrook and George could both end up with the Los Angeles Lakers after this season.
It wouldn’t be far-fetched to believe that a Lakers franchise rich in tradition in the NBA, which now has Magic Johnson at the helm, could attract stars such as Westbrook and George. For many players, location is everything. Westbrook hails from Long Beach, California, just a half hour from Los Angeles. The reigning NBA MVP played college basketball with the UCLA Bruins, the same team that the Lakers’ No. 2 draft pick, Lonzo Ball, is from.
Paul George was born in Palmdale, California, and played his college ball at Fresno State, giving both players the potential for a trip to play in their home state like stars LeBron James, and more recently Dwyane Wade, have done. Not only is it their home state, but it’s the city of stars and features plenty of possibilities beyond just playing basketball.
It’s probably no secret that Magic and the Lakers are preparing for the next offseason to make their moves. If Westbrook hasn’t signed that lucrative extension that’s on the table for the next few months, it could be an early sign that he has the potential to depart the team. Could it end up bringing about a blockbuster trade in which the Thunder are forced to deal their top two All-Stars to the Lakers? In today’s NBA, surprise moves seem to happen in the blink of an eye, such as the case of the OKC-Indiana trade just last night.
There’s still time for things to change in favor of the Oklahoma City Thunder, though. So far, Westbrook seems excited for George’s arrival to the team, and George appears to feel the same way. Despite the Lakers’ NBA rumors popping up right after this trade, this will be an experiment this coming season for the two All-Stars and the franchise. How well George and Westbrook play together, as well as how well they contend with the other top tier teams in the West will most likely dictate this team’s future, with the two stars holding all the power to make things happen.
NBA fans, do you believe that the Paul George trade to Oklahoma City will help the Thunder contend with the top tier teams of the West? How long will George be with OKC, and would Westbrook leave with him for the Lakers?
[Featured Image by Andy Lyons/Getty Images]