Since the trade deadline this past February it has basically been the NBA’s worst kept secret that Paul George wanted to join the Los Angeles Lakers. As teams worked to trade for him this summer, it was that same belief that led to teams refusing to offer their best packages as most everyone felt he would be a one-year rental before coming home to L.A.
It came as a surprise to everyone when the Oklahoma City Thunder swooped in and acquired him for what looked to be an average deal, sending Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis back to Indiana. Even after the trade however, the belief is still that George will ultimately wind up a Laker.
Now George has somewhat refuted those reports. In an interview with Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated, George said that it’s always a dream come true to play for your hometown team, but that his interest in the Lakers has been overstated:
“I grew up a Lakers and a Clippers fan,” George says. “I idolized Kobe. There will always be a tie here, a connection here. People saying I want to come here, who doesn’t want to play for their hometown? That’s a dream come true, if you’re a kid growing up on the outskirts of L.A., to be the man in your city. But it’s definitely been overstated.”
George also re-iterated that winning is the most important thing to him and if he can do that in Oklahoma City, he’d be dumb to leave:
“For me, it’s all about winning. I want to be in a good system, a good team. I want a shot to win it. I’m not a stats guy. I’m playing this game to win and build a legacy of winning. I’ve yet to do that. I’m searching for it. If we get a killer season in Oklahoma, we make the conference finals or upset the Warriors or do something crazy, I’d be dumb to want to leave that.”
This statement mostly falls in line with what George has been saying for a while now. He has maintained that winning is most important to him than anything else and even the initial rumors about him wanting to join the Lakers were prefaced with ‘if he can’t win with the Pacers.’
The Lakers will have to hold out hope that the Thunder can’t make a major run and land in the Western Conference Finals this season. In this Western Conference with the likes of the Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, and Houston Rockets, it will be a battle just to get to that level.