Paul George says he would be ‘dumb’ to leave Thunder if they can win
The Oklahoma City Thunder took a chance on Paul George as a potential one-year rental, but it sounds like it is hardly a guarantee that they will lose the star swingman in free agency next summer.
A lot has been made of George wanting to play for his hometown Los Angeles Lakers, and that is why some teams were unwilling to get into a bidding war to acquire him this offseason. If you ask George, too much has been made of it.
In an interview with Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated, George said talk of his desire to play for the Lakers has been “overstated.” He also strongly implied that he will re-sign with the Thunder if they make it to the Western Conference Finals.
“People saying I want to come here, who doesn’t want to play for their hometown? That’s a dream come true, if you’re a kid growing up on the outskirts of L.A., to be the man in your city,” George said. “But it’s definitely been overstated. For me, it’s all about winning. I want to be in a good system, a good team. I want a shot to win it. I’m not a stats guy. I’m playing this game to win and build a legacy of winning.
“I’ve yet to do that. I’m searching for it. If we get a killer season in Oklahoma, we make the conference finals or upset the Warriors or do something crazy, I’d be dumb to want to leave that.”
The Lakers are a young team with a lot to prove. While George still has plenty of good basketball left, he’s 27 and has already suffered one devastating knee injury. His NBA career could very well be more than halfway over, and he’s not going to sign with L.A. based on nostalgia alone.
“It would have to be a situation where the ball gets rolling and guys are hopping on. This guy commits, that guy commits. ‘Oh s—, now there’s a team forming.’ It has to be like that,” George said. “I’m in OKC, so hopefully me and (Russell Westbrook) do a good enough job and make it to the conference finals and love the situation, why not recruit someone to come build it with us? I’m open in this whole process.”
George has a unique opportunity in Oklahoma City, and reports like this make it sound like the Thunder could have robbed the Indiana Pacers. With Kevin Durant having crushed the hopes of fans in OKC, George has a chance to be their savior. The support he would receive during a deep playoff run just might be enough to convince him to stay.