The Los Angeles Lakers are players for several major NBA stars this offseason. But nothing is a guarantee and there is still high potential that the purple and gold can strike out on all of them.
The star most often linked to LA is Paul George, who made it clear last summer that he wanted to play in his hometown for the Lakers. LAL were unable to trade for the former Pacers star, paving the way for his joining the Oklahoma City Thunder. Now, it’s unclear if George will stick by his previous desire and head to Hollywood in free agency.
According to USA TODAY Sports’ Sam Amick, there is a growing sense on the Thunder that George is open to staying in OKC:
Even with the Thunder coming just two losses away from missing the playoffs, and then falling to Utah in six games during their first-round matchup, there is all sorts of optimism in Oklahoma City that George will re-sign. Conversely, there’s pessimism in [LeBron] James’ camp that George would leave Oklahoma City. George has raved about the Thunder since the beginning, making it clear to USA TODAY Sports in September that the organization had earned his confidence from the start.
George holds a lot of keys for the Lakers this summer. Should he decide to finally come to LA, he could be the catalyst in convincing LeBron James to do the same. The Lakers could feasibly create the necessary cap space to sign both stars and potentially trade for Kawhi Leonard, if the Spurs change their minds.
It’s important to note that George has been known for his flip-flopping on decisions. He has left the door open for both scenarios, having praised the Thunder all along this year while also noting what it would mean to play in Los Angeles.
Carmelo Anthony has reportedly told the Thunder he will be opting into his 27 million dollar player option, making it nearly impossible for them to drastically improve this summer. OKC was ousted in six games in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.
With free agency about one week away, there will be speculation about all potential decisions. It’s very much possible that George is leaning towards staying with the Thunder, potentially signing a one-year deal with a player option to hit free agency at the same time as Leonard. It’s also possible that taking a meeting with Rob Pelinka, Magic Johnson, and the Lakers could change his mind.
Either way, the fate of the Lakers’ immediate future could lie in his hands.