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Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Paul George is widely expected to decline his $20.7 million player option for next season and enter free agency, and he will be pursued by a few teams.
The Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets and Philadelphia 76ers will all go after George, while the Thunder internally have maintained that their main focus this summer is to re-sign George.
For the last two years, all we have heard is that George is intent on going home and playing for the Lakers. Los Angeles has cap space to sign two max contract players, and according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James and George will discuss teaming up in LA.
After the Thunder lost to the Utah Jazz in the first-round of the playoffs, many surmised there was no way George would go back to OKC since the club underwhelmed. But according to a report from the New York Times, that might not be the case anymore.
“There is a growing belief around the league that Oklahoma City has a far better chance to retain the free agent-to-be Paul George than many believed when the Thunder crashed out of the first round of the playoffs. As George prepares to field the Lakers’ long-anticipated interest, his willingness to post an Instagram picture of himself last month from a hospital bed after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee has helped to fuel the notion in some corners that he’s in no rush to leave OKC.”
As Stein mentions, George underwent a scope procedure on his left knee on May 9, but will likely return to offseason basketball activities at some point between June 20 and July 4.
This past 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.
In the six-game series versus Utah, George put up 24.7 points per contest, but went out on a sour note, scoring a mere five points on 2-of-16 shooting in the Game 6 loss.