Over the last several months leading up to this offseason, there had been the assumption that All-Star forward Paul George would seriously entertain the scenario of joining the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency this summer.
However, this didn’t reach a point of seriousness as he made the decision to re-sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder prior to the start of free agency earlier this month. According to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, George revealed on Thursday that it was quite difficult for him to turn down that chance to sign with the Lakers.
“It was absolutely tempting,” George said. “Honestly, I wanted to come back home. But again, I got traded to Oklahoma. Loved the situation. Loved where I was at. I decided to stick around a little longer. …
“I just wanted my free agency to be over with. In my heart, I felt great about Oklahoma and I wasn’t going to prolong it if I felt good about it already.”
It was ultimately the experience that he had playing in his first season in Oklahoma City that spearheaded by the bond that he developed with All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook on and off the court. This has given him the strong sense that the two could build something special with the Thunder over the next several years that could them contend for an NBA title.
At the same time, this statement does pin some of the blame on the Lakers for not trading for him in the first place back when he was still a member of the Indiana Pacers last summer. Los Angeles did have an opportunity to go that route but the team didn’t want to part ways with promising forward Brandon Ingram.
Regardless of that being the case, the team had positioned themselves to at least being able to offer him a max contract with the chance to team up with another star player this offseason that could have turned out to be LeBron James. There is also the fact that the Lakers didn’t even get a chance to sit down with him in free agency. There were clearly a few factors at play here with George’s decision, but the experience he had with the Thunder last season was enough to sway him to stay.
Bob Garcia IV
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