Posted on July 11, 2017, by Travis Pulver
One of the more controversial moves of the NBA offseason involved the departure of Paul George from the Indiana Pacers— or more specifically, how it went down. Several outlets reported that he informed the Pacers he wasn’t resigning with the team after next season. In the same report, and often in the same sentence, they also stated that he wanted to go to the Los Angeles Lakers.
The move didn’t come as a surprise. With where the Indiana Pacers as a franchise are, it is unlikely they are going to be a serious contender in the Eastern Conference anytime soon. So, it is not hard to understand why he would be interested in taking his talents elsewhere.
It had already been widely reported that he wanted to go to Los Angeles. Rumor has it that he told former teammates he wants to play for the Lakers. His desire to do so was described in one report as ‘hell-bent.’
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So, when the reports stated that he wanted to go to the Lakers no one was surprised. But in none of them, did anyone quote George as saying that he wants to play for the Lakers in 2018. He never refuted the claim, but he never backed it up either.
However, in a recent Sports Illustrated interview he did address it. What he had to say made complete sense. Would he like to play for his hometown Lakers? Of course.
…People saying I want to come here, who doesn’t want to play for their hometown? That’s a dream come true, if you’re a kid growing up on the outskirts of L.A., to be the man in your city….
That makes total sense, but does he really want to or doesn’t he?
It’s too early for L.A.,” he said. “It would have to be a situation where the ball gets rolling and guys are hopping on. This guy commits, that guy commits. ‘Oh s—, now there’s a team forming.’ It has to be like that.
Fair, right? In a way, it sounds like he is backing off the Lakers in ’18 talk. But since he never directly made it how can he back off it?
So, what does that mean for the Oklahoma City Thunder?
I’m in OKC, so hopefully me and Russ do a good enough job and make it to the conference finals and love the situation, why not recruit someone to come build it with us? I’m open in this whole process.
He’ll be playing with a bona fide superstar in reigning MVP Russell Westbrook. The pieces around Westbrook are not fantastic, but with George on his side it will be interesting to see what the Thunder can do.
It is not hard to imagine the Thunder coming close to beating the Golden State Warriors in the post season next year. In Los Angeles, the Lakers will be a young team once again with a lot of promising talent but with no go-to veteran.
It is easy to see him being that guy for the Lakers in 2018. But at the same time, why roll the dice and make that move when he and Westbrook can recruit someone to join them?
Both options are viable ones. This should tell NBA fans one thing. Free agency is going to be just as exciting next year as it was this year.