Lakers Rumors: NBA Star Paul George Welcomed By L.A. As Free Agency Looms, According To ‘ESPN’

Mark J. TerrillAP Images

There are ongoing Lakers rumors that NBA All-Star Paul George could head to Los Angeles next season, as ESPN recently reported he was well received by the city. George, who was traded from the Indiana Pacers to the Oklahoma City Thunder this past summer, will become a free agent this coming summer. That has kicked speculation into full gear over the possibility he’ll be lured by Magic Johnson to come play for the Los Angeles Lakers. However, George and his All-Star teammate seemed to indicate that he’s not going anywhere next season.

As ESPN reported on Saturday, there were chants of “We want Paul!” which were heard from the stands in the convention hall hosting the NBA All-Star media day event. That warm reception is yet another strong indicator that Los Angeles will welcome Paul George with open arms as a free agent. George also grew up not far from the Staples Center in the city of Palmdale, California, and played his college basketball in the state as well. With all of that in mind, there are plenty of fans and analysts who believe he’ll return to his home state to play professional ball next season. George was appreciative of the love he received too.

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The Thunder All-Star commented on the chanting that he heard ahead of his media session.

“It makes you feel great. I love it. It’s not to say that I don’t. I felt the energy. I know where the love is.”

When asked about the possibility of him coming to play in Los Angeles next season, George kept his answer political since he’s still playing for OKC.

“I know what I feel is best, but it’s a long way until the end of the season.”

It also seems that reigning NBA MVP Russell Westbrook is serving as the official spokesman for George’s free agency decision. His fellow Thunder All-Star responded to the crowd chants to let them know they won’t see George playing for the purple and gold.

“Paul ain’t goin’ nowhere! It’s over for that!”

Westbrook has seemed to take delight in the fact that the Thunder front office provided him with some All-Star help this season. As of this report, OKC is 33-26 on the season and in fifth place in the competitive Western Conference. George has been averaging 22.5 points per game to go with 5.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists. He’s leading the team in steals, averaging 2.2 per game, while mostly deferring to Russell Westbrook as the star of the team. Some analysts believe George could grow tired of no longer being a team’s main star which could influence his decision to head to Los Angeles.

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Westbrook was in the crowd on Saturday night to root on George during the latest Three-Point Contest. Unfortunately, George didn’t fare too well, coming up with the lowest score among all competitors. He joked with the media after his appearance that he needed some crisp passes from Westbrook to help him out on his shooting form. He’ll get that chance to find his form again tomorrow.

The two teammates will both be on display in Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game as part of Team LeBron’s squad taking on Stephen Curry’s team of stars. For the remainder of the season, they’ll remain teammates on the Oklahoma City Thunder. However, there will continue to be speculation that one of them will depart at the end of the season. If the OKC “Big Three” experiment seems like it won’t work beyond this season and the price is right, it’s likely that Paul George may finally make his return home to Los Angeles.