Before the 2018 NBA free agency started, there was a growing belief that Paul George would be leaving Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder to play for his hometown team, the Los Angeles Lakers. Unfortunately, when the calendar turned into the month of July, George immediately signed a four-year, $136.9 million contract with the Thunder without even giving the Lakers the chance to make their free agency pitch.
It was later revealed that Paul George has already made a decision to stay long-term with the Thunder weeks before the 2018 NBA free agency began. George never had the opportunity to talk to Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson, but there were people who gave him some information regarding what’s happening inside the organization. According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN, one of the people who influenced George’s decision to choose the Thunder over the Lakers last summer is Corey Brewer.
“George never gave the Lakers an opportunity to take their shot. But he had a wealth of information available to him about the inner workings of the Lakers without ever hearing a word from Magic Johnson. For example, George played in Oklahoma City with Corey Brewer in the second half of the 2017-18 season, after Brewer was waived by L.A. in February. Brewer divulged his Lakers experience to George, sources said.”
Paul George says Jerami Grant has been the Thunder's "X-factor" this season. https://t.co/oU6Gyx5zei
— USA TODAY NBA (@usatodaynba) March 29, 2019
Corey Brewer was originally a member of the Lakers in the 2017-18 NBA season. However, in late February 2018, Brewer reached a buyout agreement with the Lakers to sign a one-year contract with the Thunder. McMenamin didn’t give any further details of the conversation between Crewer and George, it could have somewhat affected how PG viewed the Purple and Gold.
As of now, there is no doubt that Paul George made the right decision to stay with the Thunder. In his second season of playing alongside Russell Westbrook, George returned from being an MVP caliber player and is currently averaging 28.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 2.1 steals on 44.0 percent shooting from the field and 38.7 percent shooting from beyond the arc. While the Lakers are set to miss the postseason for the sixth straight year, George and the Thunder are currently emerging as one of the biggest threats to the reigning NBA champions, Golden State Warriors, in the Western Conference.
Meanwhile, after failing to sign Paul George, the Lakers purposely filled their roster with one-year contracts to maintain their salary cap flexibility for the summer of 2019. The 2019 NBA free agency will be loaded with several NBA superstars including Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, Kemba Walker, Jimmy Butler, and DeMarcus Cousins.