Drama surrounding Paul George and the Los Angeles Lakers clouded much of last season as well as the offseason. The former Pacers star made it known through his representation and through multiple reports that he wanted to return to his hometown of LA and play for the Purple and Gold.
George was ultimately traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder where he will join forces with Russell Westbrook and recent trade acquisition Carmelo Anthony. George’s focus will shift to winning with the Thunder who promise to be one of the most talented teams in a loaded Western Conference.
But there still remains a possibility that George bolts for LA in the summer, a possibility that he has not explicitly denied while attempting to take focus off of it. In fact, George spoke to USA TODAY’s Sam Amick and acknowledged the desire he had to play for the Lakers at some point in his career:
“You ask anybody, and who wouldn’t want to play for their hometown team?” George explained. “Who wouldn’t want to go home and win a championship for their home? So yeah, a lot of me wanted to be a Laker. Even in the draft, coming out of the draft, I wanted to be a Clipper, to have a chance to play at home…(But) I’m not solely tied to LA.”
In the same breath, George was adamant that winning takes precedence and he feels that he can do that in OKC:
“Absolutely, absolutely, absolutely,” George said when asked if winning was above the Lakers on his list of priorities. “Winning takes precedence over all of it. That’s the ultimate happiness. It’s not location. It’s not stardom. It’s not ‘where can I make the most money.’ It’s winning, and winning championships.
“That’s ultimately what, as a kid, I looked at as the best fit and the biggest thing. I haven’t won on any level, besides the (2016) Olympics (in Rio). I haven’t won a championship in high school. I haven’t won a championship in college (at Fresno State). I don’t know what that feels like.”
This is a bit of a dangerous time for the Lakers who have placed all their chips on the table in order to attain superstar free agents in 2018. George was the safest bet of all due to all the smoke around his wanting to be a Laker. With the moves the Thunder have made, however, it’s easy to see why he may choose to re-sign with his new team.
That said, George’s willingness to still speak about the Lakers and do so in glowing terms about wanting to play in LA is a promising sign. If things go south for the Thunder, there is a good chance that the forward could bolt to the Lakers to cement his legacy as a winner there while playing in his hometown, something that seems very important to him.