Over the last year, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George has been at the center of countless NBA free agency rumors. They’ve centered on his reported desire to return home and sign with the Los Angeles Lakers as a free agent this summer.
But while the Thunder have struggled in recent losses, including a recent defeat at the hands of the very same Lakers George has been so oft-rumored to be interested in joining, on aggregate Oklahoma City has been a far better team than Los Angeles this season.
It’s a factor some have theorized could sway George to re-sign with them in the offseason rather than bolt for his Southern California roots.
Only further fueling that speculation was George’s sit-down with Rachel Nichols of ESPN, in which he sounded incredibly happy where he is right now, even if he acknowledges that he can’t rule out any possibility in free agency:
“You’ve got to put all of that in perspective as a player and figure out what’s best for yourself. I’ve got to figure out what’s good for my kids, what’s good for my girls. It’s a big decision, but when the time comes I’ll be ready for it. … I obviously would’ve loved to go home. That was ideal when it was that time. But now, being here, playing alongside Russ, playing alongside Melo, I’ve built a real brotherhood with those guys. If we’re here right now, then where can we be next year? Where can we be the year after that? Of course, L.A. is home, so that’s always going to draw the attention. We’ll see. I won’t rule anything out, but I’m definitely happy where I’m at. I like where we’re going, and I want to see how this unfolds.”
George has always come off as fairly reactionary when giving quotes on his free agency intentions, glowing about his current situation when it’s good and sounding less enthused when things are going less well.
So while that could mean the Lakers are still very much in the hunt for George’s services this summer, how much they are will probably depend on how Oklahoma City finishes the year.
If the Thunder make an unexpectedly competitive playoff run and look like they have room to grow over the next few years, George might have a hard time leaving Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony in July.
However, if the Thunder get swept out of the first round, or suffer similarly humiliating or demoralizing defeat, George could very much be in play for the Lakers. This won’t be the last time he’s asked about his intentions before free agency, but that doesn’t mean he probably won’t know his decision until he’s made it.
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