Oklahoma City Thunder forward and 2018 free agent Paul George has been the subject of nearly endless NBA free agent rumors over the past season, with most of them focused on the possibility of him signing with his hometown Lakers.
Recent reports have painted George — who had knee surgery that will take 6-8 weeks to recover from on Wednesday — as not being long for Oklahoma City, but Chris Haynes of ESPN reported on ESPN Los Angeles that #PG2LA isn’t quite a done deal just yet:
“They don’t want to hear this around this neck of the woods… Somebody recently close with Paul were telling me they wouldn’t be surprised if he re-signed.”— ESPNLosAngeles (@ESPNLosAngeles) May 11, 2018
- @ChrisBHaynes on Paul George potentially coming to LA
However, Haynes wasn’t willing to completely rule out a homecoming for George (as transcribed via ESPN LA):
“With all that being said, he’s been wanting to get back home forever. He’s going to get that opportunity. Magic Johnson, he’ll give him the opportunity to talk with him, to sit down and who knows? Once you get in that space and they start showing these video highlights of you wearing the purple and gold, I can see him being persuaded,” Haynes said.
So basically, this report can be summed up as “I don’t know,” which is probably accurate because it’s doubtful anyone knows what George will do, even if that’s a lot less sexy to say on the radio.
George has continuously maintained that the lure of playing in his hometown alone won’t be enough to lure him home to Los Angeles, but the common thought that Oklahoma City is the better basketball situation and that George would only come home out of some sense of nostalgia seems misguided.
The Thunder — with George, reigning MVP Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony — lost to the up-and-coming Utah Jazz in the first round of the playoffs.
With Westbrook’s contract essentially serving as an impenetrable deflector shield to any Thunder attempts to get cap space and Anthony getting older by the midrange jumper and likely to opt in, Los Angeles and it’s promising young core to carry George forward, combined with financial flexibility, might be a better basketball situation as well as the emotionally pulling choice for George.
What George values, and how he sees both situations, is pretty much impossible to know right now. All that is becoming increasingly clear with all of these reports is that the lack of certainty and predictability of George’s situation is not going to stop the rumors from flying for the next few months while he takes his time to figure out where he wants to continue his career.