The moment Los Angeles Lakers fans have been waiting for all season is here. Paul George has declined the player option in his contract for an additional year with the Oklahoma City Thunder, making the Southern California native an unrestricted free agent able to sign with any NBA team, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Sources on ESPN: Oklahoma City Thunder star Paul George informs franchise that he is not opting into final year of his contract and will become an unrestricted free agent. https://t.co/skRquzhnjb— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 28, 2018
George is coming off of a disappointing playoff flame out with the Oklahoma City Thunder that showed the very real limitations and ceiling of a roster centered on him, Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony with little financial room for extra contributors.
With their young core of Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart and Brandon Ingram, as well as the most cap space in the league, the Lakers offer a compelling choice for George. If the team can add another free agent (like LeBron James, perhaps?) then they would have a mixture of star power and cheap starters and role players in order to help lift George in ways the Thunder can’t given the constraints of Westbrook and Anthony’s gargantuan contracts.
George would instantly slot in as the Lakers’ best player (if James doesn’t join him), a do-it-all, slithery wing who can defend opposing rosters’ best players, knock down threes off the catch AND create his own offense.
Free agency will begin on July 1, and the initial moratorium ends on July 6, which is the first day a player can officially sign on the dotted line with their new team, although they can come to a verbal agreement before then. It remains to be seen how quickly George will wrap up his business, but the last year of rumors have made it clear he’ll be at the top of the Lakers’ priority list.