Following a first-round exit in the NBA playoffs at the hands of the Utah Jazz, Paul George is reportedly done with the Oklahoma City Thunder after just season with the organization that was filled with speculation he’d ultimately abscond to the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency.
According to ESPN Radio host Ryen Russillo, a “trusted source” of his told him that George will not return to the Thunder for a second season.
“Today is the first time I’ve heard from anybody that I trust that George is gone,” Russillo said on “The Rusillo Show” Tuesday morning. “... I don’t know where, but it’s a ‘he’s gone’ deal.”
Russillo didn’t specify where exactly George is allegedly leaving to, but the Lakers are still considered favorites to land George in most NBA circles, according to a report by Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post.
However, in his exit interview on Saturday, George didn’t sound like someone who had his mind made up. In fact, he told reporters that he would “love to remain a Thunder,” but would deal with that when the time comes.
At 27 years old, George will hit unrestricted free agency for the first time in his seven-year NBA career. While the Lakers are still considered frontrunners to land the five-time All-Star, George made it clear that playing at home won’t be the most important factor for him in free agency.
“It’s tough,” George said in his exit interview. “I haven’t been in the position to be a free agent or know what that is like, and then to have the chance to go where you want to go. That’s always been, I feel, what players want ... but then you get to an organization where they check the boxes on all of the things you want out of an organization and then immediately they become a candidate for where you want to play long-term. That’s been the case here.
“I would say almost everybody in this league would love to play at home,” George continued. “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.”
There’s still plenty of time for things to change from now until the free agency moratorium period on July 1, but the Lakers look like they’re in a good position to, at the very least, secure a meeting with George. If the reports hold true, it’s the Lakers’ battle to lose at that point.