Donovan Mitchell and the Utah Jazz were expected to take a step back this season after losing star small forward Gordon Hayward to the Boston Celtics in free agency last offseason. Instead, the rookie shooting guard stepped up and became a star in his first NBA season. Now, the Jazz are hoping to be aggressive this offseason and Mitchell plans to help them do just that.
Looking ahead at free agency this offseason, there is one player that Mitchell is already planning to recruit to Utah. That player would be Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George, according to a statement Mitchell made on The Woj Pod with ESPN reporter Adrian Wojnarowski.
“I was the lead recruiter at Louisville. I think I signed four or five guys before I left. I think I can recruit some guys. Coach (Rick Pitino) and coach Kenny Johnson taught me some things. He’s due. I think it’s July 1. I’m definitely going to have that conversation. Why not play with us? You look at how we move the ball. We play with guys who don’t care who scores the most, who rebounds the most…. We play with guys who genuinely want to win.”
At this point in time, the Jazz are not expected to be a serious contender to sign George this offseason. The Thunder, Los Angeles Lakers, and Houston Rockets appear to the three most likely landing spots for him. Philadelphia is another team that is expected to pursue him.
During the 2017-18 season with the Thunder, George averaged 21.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game. He was also one of the league’s top defenders, averaging 2.0 steals per game. George shot 43.0 percent from the floor overall and knocked down 40.1 percent of his three-point attempts.
George is 28-years-old and has been adamant about wanting to win a championship. He has also talked a lot about heading home to play for the Lakers. Utah will have to find a way to convince him that he can win a championship by signing with them.
Mitchell finished up his comments about George by talking about how good the Jazz could be with a star player like George joining the team.
“You can only imagine what we’d be able to do if we had that one big piece. It would be great. If not, like I said, we trust our abilities to do well. But it would be great to have that one piece like you’re talking about.”
More than likely, the Jazz will not end up signing George this offseason. That being said, Mitchell will not let projections stop him from trying to bring more talent to Utah.
Expect to hear a lot of rumors about George in the coming weeks as free agency draws closer. He is widely considered the second-best free agent on the market behind LeBron James and is going to have a long list of teams to choose from.