Report: Rival teams have growing expectations Paul George will sign short-term deal with Thunder

NBA: Playoffs-Oklahoma City Thunder at Utah Jazz
Apr 27, 2018; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George (13) between plays during the first half of game six of the first round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs against the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

As the NBA’s free agency nears, there will likely be all sorts of rumors and reports on many different sides of every story. Things can change in an instant in the NBA and it appears as though some around the league are expecting that level of fluidity regarding Paul George.

According to the New York Times’ Marc Stein (on his weekly newsletter), rival teams are becoming more mindful of the possibility that George will re-sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder, citing his ability to re-up on a short-term deal before hitting free agency again (h/t Weston Shepherd of Daily Thunder):

“Since last week’s newsletter item about the Thunder’s better-than-expected chances of retaining the All-Star forward Paul George in free agency, I’ve heard even more support around the league for the idea that Oklahoma City can really convince George to stay.”

“It has reached the point that potential contract scenarios are starting to circulate. More than one rival team has suggested to me that they expect George to strongly consider a two-year deal with the Thunder at $30.3 million next season and $32.7 million in 2019-20 that includes a player option to return to free agency next summer.”

As with every rumor this time of year, it’s important to note from where this report originates. Stein is one of the most respected and reliable reporters out there but his sources for this story are clearly other organizations that are likely speculating on George’s decision rather than having a firm understanding of it. Additionally, rival teams stand to gain from George becoming reluctant to sign with the Lakers who can potentially form a super team with the Thunder forward playing alongside LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard if the dominoes fall as intended.

Of course, it’s very much possible that George does re-sign with the Thunder. Despite a disappointing season, they are a playoff team already boasting another superstar in Russell Westbrook. They can offer him a huge contract. George will have the ability, if he chooses, to become a free agent again next year when there will be more teams with cap space and other stars like Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, and Leonard can hit free agency.

Nevertheless, this report will not serve to extinguish the fires that have caused all the George to LA smoke. It’s clear that PG wants to play in Los Angeles but his decision is not quite that easy and many factors will be in play from now until he signs a new contract in July.

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