While George has left the door open for a return to Oklahoma City, an early first-round exit alongside the reigning league MVP is a bad taste to have in your mouth heading into unrestricted free agency.
George will have a number of suitors, including the Thunder, when the free agency moratorium period starts on July 1, but the overwhelming feeling around the league is that the Lakers still have the best chance to land George, according to Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post.
When Thunder General Manager Sam Presti traded for George last summer, it seemed like a long shot that George would choose to stay in Oklahoma City. Remember, he had been set either on staying with the Indiana Pacers or going to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Ask people today – particularly in the wake of this first-round exit – and they’ll say the Lakers still remain the favorites to get him this summer.
A native of Palmdale, CA, George hasn’t strayed away from talking about how much playing for his hometown would mean to him this season. However, George has also said that his ties to Los Angeles alone won’t be enough to get him out of his current situation with the The Thunder.
“I would say almost everybody in this league would love to play at home,” George said in his exit interview on Saturday. “I won’t say that’s a lie. Everybody would love to play for their home in one way or another, but that won’t be the only option for why I want to go somewhere, is because it’s home. Not at all.”
Luckily, for the first time in years, the Lakers will have more to sell free agents like George than warm winters and breezy beaches. With a revamped front office, the best and newest training facility in the NBA and one of the league’s most exciting young cores, the Lakers are in a good position to land meetings with some of the biggest names in the association.
The tough part will be to get George to leave a winning situation with the Thunder to play for a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in five years. The fact that the Lakers are reportedly still considered the favorites to land George is a good sign, but until George puts a pen to paper, nothing is guaranteed.