Tuesday, 18 September, 2018

Watch NBA star CONFIRM Thunder move at Russell Westbrook party — Paul George

Paul George GETTYPaul George developed a close friendship with Russell Westbrook while playing in OKC
Betsy Taylor | 04 July, 2018, 01:31

George, who would have been among the top prizes available in this year's free agent sweepstakes when the period officially opened at 12:01 a.m. ET on Sunday, was traded to the Thunder last summer from the Indiana Pacers, giving Oklahoma City this past season to try to work out a longer-term relationship.

The deal is four-years, $137 million with a player option on the third year.

Players can not officially sign their new contracts until July 6. Alex Abrines ($5.5 million in the final season of his contract) and Patrick Patterson ($5.5 million, with a $5.7 million player option for 2019-20) could be replaced more cheaply in free agency, but both played regular minutes last season and Patterson in particular may be hard to trade without giving up draft-pick compensation.

George did not take any meetings once free agency began, instead making the announcement he would be staying with the Thunder soon after midnight on July 1.

And all those clubs - Golden State, Oklahoma City, Houston, the Lakers, even Denver by locking up Nikola Jokic for $150 million and Will Barton for $54 million - could definitively say they were thrilled.

For the Thunder, two of the biggest question marks the organization faced heading into the offseason had been swiftly taken care of just minutes into the start of free agency.


The Lakers are being connected to a lot of the big names out there like James, George and Kawhi Leonard, but what about Boogie? The Akron, Ohio, native was also thought to have a good chance of returning to Cleveland, if only for one more season perhaps, and the 76ers were reported to have pitched James on joining forces with their collection of impressive young talent.

Now, in no way are we saying that the cheaper alternatives are just as good, but they're similar players who can, in theory, be acquired for a more reasonable price.

The general assumption was that George would be sitting down with the Lakers to plan out a future with the Los Angeles team, so his decision to stay locked down with the Thunder naturally came as a shock. While that in itself isn't too revealing-free agents travel to meet with teams they don't sign with all the time-the timing of the trip happens to reportedly coincide with a massive party Russell Westbrook is throwing in OKC.

But PG13 may remain with the Thunder for considerably longer. While there was a ton of speculation about George heading home to play for the Los Angeles Lakers, Magic Johnson and company dodged a bullet by not bringing PG to LA. It's a one-year rental. There's also a difference in personalities, and that's where things get tricky for a team thinking about taking an OKC-type gamble.

There are many reasons why George committed a grave mistake by choosing to stay with the Thunder.

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