Paul George and the Oklahoma City Thunder are officially out of the playoffs after being eliminated by the Jazz in 6 games in the first round. Where do we go from here? George and his teammate Russell Westbrook both said it was too soon to talk about George’s impending free agency after the loss. We’ve had a few days to digest things now though. So, where will PG-13 be taking his talents this summer?
There’s really only two serious options – either he stays with the Thunder, or he goes home to play for the Lakers.
When George was traded from Indiana to OKC this past summer, he seemed open to the idea of remaining a Thunder after the 2017-18 season. Russell Westbrook was adamant that the Thunder’s success with George would be enough to convince George to stay for more than just a season. That didn’t really work out though did it? Oklahoma City finished the regular season 48-34. While that was good enough to be the 4th seed in the Western Conference, it was also just 2 losses away from not even making the playoffs. The Thunder were up and down all season and they never seemed to find that dominance that everyone expected. All that being said, they did make the Playoffs. A lot of people, including myself, thought that would be enough. I expected them to get in, get it together, dominate the Jazz in the first round, then potentially upset Houston in the second round. Clearly, I was wrong. Paul George’s first and only guaranteed season in Oklahoma City didn’t go as planned, and now he’s a free agent.
Why stay? Well, it was only the first season Russ & PG played together. Even the Miami Heat Big 3 didn’t win the championship in their first year together. Maybe they just need a better system to play in together. That would mean that Billy Donovan would have to go, which I fully expect to happen. Maybe the problem this year was Carmelo Anthony being on the team. All season long Melo was a ball-stopper for the Thunder, and he didn’t adjust well to being the 3rd option on a team. Perhaps OKC’s front office can make a deal that would get rid of Melo and his huge contract and bring in some role players to fill in around George & Westbrook. If the Thunder can get a new coach that is able to implement a strong system AND trade Melo for a shooter or two, I think George would be out of his mind to leave.
We can’t sleep on LA though. George is from Los Angeles. He grew up a Laker fan. He wore Kobe Bryant’s number before becoming PG-13! Magic Johnson has been fined multiple times for hinting that he wants George to play for the Lakers. This seems like a match made in heaven! Oh, and don’t forget that the Lakers made big trades in the middle of the season that freed up enough cap space for a free agent like Paul George to sign a big contract. Wait, isn’t there another star that the Lakers are already predicted to sign in the offseason? Oh yeah, LeBron James. The Lakers have enough cap space to sign both George AND LeBron this off-season. If playing alongside Westbrook got Paul George to the 4th seed in the West, we can only imagine how successful a team led by him and LeBron James would be. George knows LA wants him. He knows LeBron might end up there as well. How dumb would he be to say no to playing for his hometown team on a big contract alongside the NBA’s best player?
OKC and LA will both pitch hard to PG this summer. Where will he end up? My prediction is LA. There’s too many if’s and but’s with the Thunder. The Lakers have been irrelevant long enough. They are primed to make a splash this summer and we know Paul George won’t want to miss out on the opportunity to be the franchise player for one of the NBA’s most decorated franchises.