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The Oklahoma City Thunder have maintained that their primary focus this summer is to re-sign small forward Paul George, who will be an unrestricted free-agent once July 1 hits.
The Thunder are in a better position to keep George than they were when the franchise traded for him last summer, but George’s hometown team, the Los Angeles Lakers, remain a big threat to sign the swingman, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
“Oklahoma City has done a great job of selling him on a future there and he liked playing with Russell Westbrook and Steven Adams and [coach] Billy Donovan,” Wojnarowski said Tuesday. “They have a real opportunity to keep him, but the Lakers are home. He grew up in L.A., and when he left Indiana, his plan was that he would be in L.A. in a year. So you have to credit Oklahoma City for really turning his head on that.”
During the regular season, George averaged 21.9 points for the Thunder while shooting 43.0 percent from the field and 40.1 percent from beyond the arc. He underwent a scope procedure on his left knee on May 9 and will likely return to offseason basketball activities at some point between June 20 and July 4.
The Lakers are also expected to pursue LeBron James in free agency, with many thinking James and George will join forces in the purple and gold.
“That’s gonna be a conversation or conversations George and James are gonna have once we get toward July,” Wojnarowski said. “This is George’s chance and I think for Paul George at this point in his career, he has to pick winning and I think that’s his focus.”
The Houston Rockets and Philadelphia 76ers will aggressively try to sign George and James as well.