Once the Utah Jazz eliminated the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 6 of their Western Conference first round playoff series, everyone turned their attention to one man: Paul George.
Ever since before George was traded to the Thunder last summer, the All-Star forward has been heavily linked to the hometown Los Angeles Lakers. Of course, the Lakers were hit with tampering charges last summer as they expressed their interest in acquiring George, making it appear there is mutual interest there.
Unfortunately, the decision is still roughly two months away, as free agency officially starts on July 1. Will George stay in Oklahoma City or look to sign elsewhere? According to ESPN’s Ryen Russillo, the Thunder should start to worry (12:40 mark):
“Today is the first time I’ve heard from anybody that I trust, that George is gone … I don’t know where. It’s a ‘he’s gone,’ deal.”
Russillo also shared that he was skeptical to share the information, and when he asked his source where George was going, the source did not know that information, just that he was gone.
It’s fair to be skeptical of this information, but there is reason to believe that George would have a desire to leave the Thunder. As Russillo mentions on the podcast, Russell Westbrook is not an easy guy to play with, especially for fellow star players. Westbrook’s usage rate is typically through the roof, limiting some offensive opportunities for others.
Additionally, there have been endless rumors for about a year that George wants to return home to play in Los Angeles, specifically for the Lakers. The Lakers showed tremendous promise this year with their young core, even in an injury-plagued season.
The Thunder have extremely limited resources to improve their roster with a shoddy draft pick situation and no cap space this summer. The Lakers, however, have a ton of cap space and draft picks with a team that is certainly trending upward. Plus, the Lakers can likely offer a featured role in their offense that the Thunder can’t really match because of Westbrook.
Expect more and more rumors over the next two months. George probably doesn’t even know what he wants to do yet, but we will all know soon enough.
For the full podcast from Ryen Russillo, click here.
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