At the moment, it’s yet to be absolutely confirmed, but reports are now suggesting that Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George has decided to opt out of the final year of his contract, thereby making him an unrestricted free agent.
In a tweet posted earlier today, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski cited league sources, who informed him that George, who has until Friday to make his decision on whether to enter free agency or not, told the Thunder that he will be opting out of his five-year, $91.6 million contract, which would pay him $20.7 million in the 2018-19 season, as noted by Sports Illustrated. Should he re-sign with the Thunder, George would be eligible to sign an extension worth five years and $176 million.
With Paul George reportedly entering free agency, that shines the spotlight on several NBA teams that are supposedly interested in acquiring him, including the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, and Philadelphia 76ers. The Lakers have often been referred to as a favorite to acquire the 28-year-old forward’s services, not only because George grew up in the Los Angeles area, but also because he had reportedly told the Indiana Pacers last summer that he was planning to join the hometown team.
Instead of adding veteran star power to a young Lakers team in 2016-17, George was instead sent to the Oklahoma City Thunder, where he averaged 21.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 3.3 assists in a team that also featured Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony. The Pacers received Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis, both of whom responded to the move from Oklahoma City with career-high numbers.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, predictions ahead of the start of the 2018 NBA free agency season suggest that Paul George will end up with the Los Angeles Lakers, with Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James also expected by many to help form a “super-team” in Los Angeles. Reports also suggest that the Lakers are actively pursuing a trade for San Antonio Spurs wingman Kawhi Leonard, despite earlier rumors that the Spurs are only interested in sending their disgruntled star to an Eastern Conference team.
Despite all the rumors linking Paul George to the Los Angeles Lakers, the five-time All-Star is considering a number of factors when choosing which team to move to, assuming he has indeed opted out of his Thunder contract as reported. According to NewsOK, George said in his ESPN SportsCenter special documenting his free agency “journey” that he wants to move to a team that would be the “right fit” and offers the “best place for [him] to raise [his] kids,” among other factors.