Everyone wants to feel loved, needed and wanted. Some might need that acknowledgment more than others, but at some level, anyone can relate to that desire. When that need gets in the way of what might be best for someone, that’s when a potential issue arises. Paul George staying with the Oklahoma City Thunder is obviously his right, but his reasoning for not even meeting with the Los Angeles Lakers is really something to behold.
The third and (mercifully) final episode of his docuseries aired Tuesday and he had this to say about why he spurned the Lakers.
“It’s been very stressful. It has not been an easy decision. I 100 percent appreciate Laker Nation for wanting me to come back home, for wanting to play in front of them.
”I wanted to come here a year ago prior to going to OKC. Unfortunately, I wasn’t traded to the Lakers. The Lakers didn’t grab me. I was traded to Oklahoma. And that has been a beautiful thing for me.
”(The Thunder) just being hands on, being open, being honest. Keeping that relationship authentic. I thought everything has just been real. The relationship with Sam (Presti). Connecting with Russ (Westbrook). I feel a family and brotherhood in that organization.
Look, George is perfectly within his own right to return to Oklahoma City. Maybe he enjoys getting paid extremely well to play in a city with exponentially less pressure than he might’ve had in Los Angeles. Maybe small cities better suit him. Those are all things he absolutely should have taken into account in making his decision.
What strikes me as lame is his line of reasoning having to do with the Lakers not trading for him a year ago. He’s spent too much time listening to Carmelo Anthony explain away how he forced his way to the New York Knicks a few months too early, costing them assets that either could’ve helped upon his arrival or could’ve been used to improve the roster around him.
Based on George’s explanation, he would’ve preferred the Lakers either use their number two pick on him or include D’Angelo Russell in a trade for him that would’ve precluded the Lakers from either drafting Lonzo Ball or opening up enough cap space to sign LeBron James. It’s simply nonsensical, and that’s without getting into if he wanted them to ship out Brandon Ingram for him.
No matter how you feel about Ball, the Lakers are basically objectively in a better place now having not traded a No. 2 pick for George — let alone how much better off they are now having made the Russell and Timofey Mozgov trade, which helped land James.
George can enjoy his time in Oklahoma City and again, it was his choice to make. If he prefers to play with less pressure and is incapable of thinking beyond his own desires for what’s best for the organization he plays for, maybe both he and the Lakers are better off without each other.