That the Los Angeles Lakers would very much like Oklahoma City Thunder star Paul George to join their team in free agency is perhaps the worst-kept secret in the league. To the point that the team was fined for reported tampering with the latest All-Star wing to join forces with Russell Westbrook.
Although, as George revealed Wednesday, the Indiana Pacers were needlessly concerned about conversations he had with Lakers assistant coach Brian Shaw. When the NBA announced the record fine, it was for purported communication between Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka and George’s agent.
Now the Thunder find themselves in a similar position to that of Indiana. Oklahoma City, however, surely aren’t going to let George go without a fight, especially given that they only lost Kevin Durant to the Golden State Warriors a little less than two years ago.
On that front, most would expect the organization to be doing everything it could to keep George happy, bending over backward to make sure the type of player OKC could never recruit in free agency wants to stay there.
According to Russell Westbrook, the Thunder’s pitch in free agency will be relatively straightforward, via Bill Oram of the Southern California News Group:
Russell Westbrook on Paul George, the Lakers and the sales pitch to keep him in OKC: “The sales pitch is going to be when we win a championship. Beat that pitch.”
— Bill Oram (@billoram) January 3, 2018
One on hand, Wesbrook’s words aren’t surprising and actually make sense. Was a player who didn’t go out of his way to make sure Durant stayed really going to do so for George? And wouldn’t winning be the ultimate sales pitch anyway? Why would George want to leave if the Thunder win a title?
The thing is, this is isn’t that simple. The Thunder aren’t going to win a championship. Certainly not an NBA one, and they are unlikely to even make it to the Western Conference Finals this season. Although as the great philosopher Kevin Garnett once said, “anything is possible.”
Of those infinite possibilities, the chance that George wins a title with the Thunder is infinitesimal compared to the chance he joins the Lakers, even if the latter is hardly a guarantee either.
Still, with George talking about how much he would have loved to play for the Lakers, him getting the chance to is looking a whole lot more likely if the Thunder’s only plan to keep him is by winning an NBA championship.
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