Rumors and speculations continue to swirl around Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Paul George regarding his decision in the upcoming free agency. Despite expressing his intention to continue his partnership with Russell Westbrook, ESPN‘s Ryen Russillo said that a trusted source told him that George will find a new team this summer.
If he really leaves Oklahoma City, money is unlikely to be Paul George’s main priority. He will surely sign with a team where he will be having a higher chance of winning an NBA championship title next season. Frank Urbina of HoopsHype sees the Los Angeles Lakers as the “likeliest landing spot” for the Thunder superstar. The Lakers may have enough salary cap space to give George a maximum contract, but their roster, as currently constructed, is still not in a strong position to beat powerhouse teams in the league like the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets.
There are only few playoff contenders in the league who have the salary cap flexibility to chase superstars in the upcoming offseason. One of them is the Philadelphia 76ers. As Urbina noted, Paul George would be a perfect fit for the Sixers, especially if J.J. Redick leaves as an unrestricted free agent.
After years of tanking, the Sixers have finally returned in the Eastern Conference Playoffs and currently playing against the Boston Celtics in the semis. With the emergence of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, there is no doubt that the Sixers are taking the right path to title contention. However, Simmons and Embiid both know that the team needs an experienced superstar to complete the “Process.”
Paul George will undeniably boost the Sixers on both ends of the floor. He can play off the ball, space the floor, and defend the opposing team’s best player. Though the Sixers could offer him a maximum contract, Urbina believes Philadelphia will try to sign George to a two-year deal worth $60 million with a player option in the second year. This will give the Sixers the salary cap flexibility if George’s signing won’t work well, or if Markelle Fultz shows his capability to become a superstar in the next couple of seasons.
On paper, the combination of Paul George, Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, and Fultz will make the Sixers a terrifying team in the 2018-19 NBA season. If George immediately builds a good chemistry with Philly’s young core, it will not be a surprise if the Sixers represent the East in the 2019 NBA Finals.