The Los Angeles Lakers may be shifting their “focus” to the summer of 2019, but there’s no doubt the front office is still interested in acquiring a star free agent as soon as possible. That leaves Paul George very much on their radar, even if George is enjoying his time with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
It’s no secret that the Lakers would love to bring the California native home, getting hit with a $500,000 fine last summer for letting the cat a bit too out of the bag. The soon-to-be 28-year-old star swingman would be a huge get for LA, giving them an established All-Star quality player to anchor the young core.
There’s also the fact that talent attracts talent.
George has a big decision this summer. He has a $20.5 million player option that he will (most likely) decline, allowing him to direct his career wherever he’d like. He’s also gone on the record saying playing alongside Russell Westbrook is making his decision “even easier.”
It’s not all about loving his current situation, though. George spoke with Sam Amick of USA TODAY Sports and dropped some interesting thoughts about his mindset heading into free agency:
“Well, I mean I’m happy here,” George said. “I’m happy here. I’m happy with this group. At the end of the season, it’s still on my decision on what I need to do for my family. That has nothing to do with my happiness here though. I’ve been really happy. It’s a great organization to be a part of, but again, you know, I don’t want people looking at this and (saying) like, ‘Hey, because he said it’s his happiness at the end of the day (that he’s definitely re-signing).
“I don’t know if whether I’m going to LA, or what I’m going to do this offseason. But I can say I am happy about being here. I’m happy with playing with Russ, happy with playing with Melo, and this organization. This front office has shown what they can do to go get pieces and how active they are about winning.”
George could have left it at the fact that he’s happy in Oklahoma City, but his decision to go further with the fact that being happy isn’t necessarily all he’s considering this summer is an interesting one. Perhaps he just doesn’t want to paint too clear of a picture to Oklahoma City fans, or the front office, that he’s definitely staying. Make no mistake, those are the words of someone undecided on what comes next.
The Lakers just created a path to two maximum contract offers — or, who knows what they might do with their flexibility in the summer — by trading Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. George is the clearest target for the Lakers, and the opportunity to partner with him another major piece is something the front office might be able to entice him with.
It’s going to be an interesting summer once the flood gates open on July 1.