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Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Paul George is expected to decline his $20.7 million player option for next season to enter free agency and rival teams around the league think George could strongly consider signing a one-plus-one deal to stay in OKC, according to a report from the New York Times.
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 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,” New York Times reporter Marc Stein reported in his weekly newsletter. “I’ve heard even more support around the league for the idea that Oklahoma City can really convince George to stay.”
As for the one-plus-one deal notion, Stein reports rival teams expect George to consider signing a short term deal with the Thunder so that he can enter free agency again in 2019 if things in OKC don’t improve.
George could sign a two-year deal with the Thunder at $30.3 million next season and have a player option worth $32.7 million in 2019-20.
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. 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.