Paul George reveals what could sway him to stay with Thunder long term
Paul George will have a big decision to make after the season regarding his future, and the Thunder star insists it will not take a championship ring to convince him to stay in Oklahoma City.
Russell Westbrook said earlier in the week that winning a title this year is going to be all the sales pitch George needs. But prior to Wednesday’s 133-96 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, George said the biggest factor in his free agency decision will be signing with a team that is in position to contend.
“I’ve got a lot to think about,” George told ESPN. “This summer will be huge. I’ve got a lot to think about. If we’re trending, if we’re going in the right direction, if I feel there is something that we’re building, and there’s a foundation — it would be kind of clueless, just stupid on my behalf to up and leave.”
The Thunder were expected to be one of the best teams in the Western Conference after they acquired George and Carmelo Anthony this past offseason, but they have experienced some growing pains. They’ve looked better as of late, winning nine of their last 12 games.
George understands that developing championship chemistry takes time.
“I’m very conscious that we’re only together for a year so far, and we continue to go in an upward trend. It’s best to stick with what we have and work on building,” he said. “So, I wouldn’t say it’s championship or bust, or championship and I’m out. It’s all about building. If I like where we’re building or the level that we’re going at, it would be stupid to walk away from that.”
One of the biggest things working in the Thunder’s favor could be how unimpressive the Lakers have looked. George is from L.A., and the Lakers have long been considered the favorite to land him. While there’s still a chance they could sign George and another star player (LeBron James, perhaps?), they’re just 11-26 this year and Lonzo Ball has not been a huge difference-maker in his rookie season.
There have been rumors that teams will look to acquire George at the trade deadline, but OKC would probably rather ride it out if George if undecided about his future. At this point, it sounds like he genuinely is.