The Los Angeles Lakers are expected to pursue Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George in free agency this summer, that much is certain. However, the team’s recruitment has probably never looked less promising.
Even with George openly flirting with the Lakers over the couple days preceding and after his first matchup with the team he demanded a trade to over the summer, the Thunder’s 133-96 shellacking on Wednesday night was possibly the worst possible sales pitch the Lakers could’ve made.
George’s decision will obviously be based on a lot more than one game, but his teammate Russell Westbrook made the point that the Thunder’s proximity to title contention will be a much more promising sales job than almost any other team can provide.
However, according to comments George himself made on ESPN, the Thunder don’t necessarily have to win a title for him not to depart via free agency:
“This summer is huge obviously, but I’ve got a lot to think about. If we’re trending, if we’re going in the right direction, if I feel like there’s a foundation. I’m very conscious that we’re only together for a year so far, so yeah, I wouldn’t say that it’s ‘championship or bust, or championship and I’m out.’ If I like what we’re building or the level we’re going at then I’d be stupid to walk away from that.”
It’s understandable for George to feel this way given that Westbrook is not only the best player he’s ever played with, but also a far better player than anyone on the Lakers roster. If they’re building something promising together, it probably would be hard to walk away from.
That is, unless it looked like the Lakers were building something more promising for George, such as the opportunity to team up with another superstar like LeBron James alongside a promising young nucleus of Lakers featuring Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram.
It remains to be seen if the chance to team James and George will present itself, but for now it certainly seems like the most promising way the Lakers can ‘beat that pitch’ presented by Westbrook and the Thunder organization.
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