Since the February trade deadline, there has been a growing belief that Paul George will be joining his hometown team, the Los Angeles Lakers, in 2018 when he becomes an unrestricted free agent. However, everything has changed after the Oklahoma City Thunder traded for Carmelo Anthony and Russell Westbrook finally signed an extension. Will PG-13 postpone his dream to wear purple and gold and chase for his first NBA championship title with the Thunder?
The Thunder have been one of the busiest team this offseason. Earlier in July, they traded Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis to the Indiana Pacers to give Russell Westbrook his new superstar duo in the name of Paul George. The move was expected to convince Westbrook to sign the Designated Player Extension to lead the Thunder in the years to come.
Unfortunately, the reigning MVP didn’t give any commitment, creating speculation that he’ll also leave OKC like Kevin Durant. Weeks before the start of the 2017-18 NBA season, Thunder general manager Sam Presti pulled another blockbuster move. This time, the Thunder acquired Carmelo Anthony for Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott, and Chicago Bulls’ 2018 second-round draft pick.
Days after, Russell Westbrook finally signed the five-year, $205 million contract extension. Most people, including Westbrook’s new running mate Paul George, are impressed by how the Thunder handled the 2017 offseason.
When Paul George joined the Thunder, he hasn’t given any assurance that he’ll re-sign, making some people believe that he’s only a one-year rental in OKC. However, his tone has changed after Russell Westbrook signed the extension.
“We’ve been on an unbelievable start right now, and for him to be committed here, it says a lot,” George said, via Royce Young of ESPN. “Not only in us pairing together, but just knowing what type of dude Russ is and his values and his beliefs and him being committed to this organization says a lot. And I’m one person that’s enjoying it here, so I think when that time comes, the decision will be easier to make for myself.”
George didn’t say it directly, but it’s crystal clear that he’s already thinking about staying long-term in OKC. This is definitely good news for the Thunder and bad news for the Los Angeles Lakers. Since Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka took over the Lakers’ front office, they already revealed their plan to pursue big names in the 2018 free agency.
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Paul George and LeBron James emerged as their top targets and it seems like the Lakers are quite confident that they can acquire the two superstars. Russell Westbrook’s name also surfaced in several Lakers rumors but it died down after he signed the extension. With George’s statement, the Lakers may end up empty-handed in the summer of 2018.
James will surely think twice before heading to Los Angeles if the Lakers fail to acquire George. The “PG-13 to Lakers” may end up being just a dream, especially if the Thunder beat the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference and win the 2018 NBA championship title.
[Featured Image by Andy Lyons/Getty Images]