After suffering a first-round exit in the Western Conference Playoffs, rumors and speculations started to swirl that Paul George was on his way out of Oklahoma City. The 28-year-old small forward has a player option in his contract that will allow him to become an unrestricted free agent in July.
In the past months, there has been a growing belief that Paul George would be leaving the Thunder to join his hometown team, the Los Angeles Lakers. However, recent reports suggested that George may consider playing with the Thunder for another season. According to Marc Stein of The New York Times (h/t NBC Sports), rival NBA executives expect George to sign a two-year deal with the Thunder in free agency.
“More than one rival team has suggested to me that they expect George to strongly consider a two-year deal with the Thunder at $30.3 million next season and $32.7 million in 2019-20 that includes a player option to return to free agency next summer.”
Signing a two-year contract with a player option on the second year would be beneficial for George as it would help him determine if he can really win an NBA championship title playing alongside Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony. During the 2017-18 NBA season, there were multiple occasions George expressed his desire to stay in Oklahoma City. Hearing opposing teams talk about his potential return could be a good sign that he is really coming back with the Thunder next season.
The reports about George’s potential return to Oklahoma City are undeniably a very disappointing piece of news for the Lakers. If they can’t sign George this summer, it is highly unlikely that Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James will consider taking his talent to Los Angeles, knowing the fact that the San Antonio Spurs also have shown no interest in trading Kawhi Leonard to the Lakers.
However, nothing is final until George inks a new contract in July. So far, the Thunder are doing their best to convince the All-Star forward to re-sign with the team. According to Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman, Thunder General Manager Sam Presti and his staffs continue to keep the lines of communication open with George and his representatives.
“Paul and his representation, we built a relationship built on transparency, trust and collaboration,” Presti said. “I’m happy to say that that’s continued during the period of time that the season ended to now, which I think speaks a great deal about Paul George and just who he is as a guy. It’s just how he operates. Things don’t change.”