Storyline: Paul George Free Agency

156 rumors in this storyline

Even with the Thunder coming just two losses away from missing the playoffs, and then falling to Utah in six games during their first-round matchup, there is all sorts of optimism in Oklahoma City that George will re-sign. Conversely, there’s pessimism in James’ camp that George would leave Oklahoma City. George has raved about the Thunder since the beginning, making it clear to USA TODAY Sports in September that the organization had earned his confidence from the start. “I haven’t even gone through a season yet, and they’ve already proven everything on my check list (that) I can check off,” George said then. “That’s what feels good. That’s what makes me feel like, ‘Hey, this can be a landing spot for me, and somewhere I can call home for years.”

More Rumors in this Storyline

The 21-year-old rookie star of the Utah Jazz – who’s in Manila for the first time – made his recruitment pitch to incoming free agents LeBron James and Paul George in a special press conference at Bonifacio Global City in Taguig on Sunday, June 17. “I’ll make [my pitch] to Paul George right now,” said Mitchell. “We want to win, we’re not selfish. If he comes in, it’s gonna make life a lot easier on the offensive end. He’s also a great defender.” “We have talent, we have a crowd that sells out every night,” he continued. “Our coach [Quin Snyder] is probably the Coach of the Year and we have [a] Defensive Player of the Year [candidate in Rudy Gobert].”
5 days ago via RealGM

“Last summer, they could have acquired Paul George. ” said Adrian Wojnarowski on the Adam Schefter podcast. “I think Paul George wanted to know, ‘if LeBron commits to some years going forward, then I might be willing to commit.’ “When LeBron wasn’t willing to commit to an extension, that told me, they could have had Paul George without losing Kyrie. That’s a very different team: Kyrie Irving, Paul George and LeBron James. “When he wasn’t ready to do that then, Cleveland was worried and rightly so.”

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. As George prepares to field the Lakers’ long-anticipated interest, his willingness to post an Instagram picture of himself last month from a hospital bed after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee has helped to fuel the notion in some corners that he’s in no rush to leave OKC.

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. As George prepares to field the Lakers’ long-anticipated interest, his willingness to post an Instagram picture of himself last month from a hospital bed after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee has helped to fuel the notion in some corners that he’s in no rush to leave OKC.

The Oklahoma City Thunder remain confident in their odds of re-signing Paul George this offseason. “I think there’s a lot of positivity around it, and I think even around Paul George, there’s a sense he feels like he’s in a good place in Oklahoma City. But things change,” said Shams Charania. “There’s different dominoes that’s going to change over these next few weeks. LeBron James is probably the biggest domino that’s going to drop. Until the league gets ahold of what his aspirations are, Paul George can very well decide to stay in Oklahoma City and not wait for what LeBron James is going to do.”

Despite that, Adrian Wojnarowski reported on ESPN’s “NBA Draft: On the Clock” special that the Oklahoma City Thunder very much remain in contention to re-sign George, while the Houston Rockets will make a strong effort to acquire him: “Like LeBron James, any place he’d tell a team, ‘I’d like to come,’ they’d create salary cap space for him. But, Oklahoma City has done a great job on selling him on a future there. He liked playing with Russell Westbrook, Steven Adams and Billy Donovan. They have a real opportunity to keep him, but the Lakers are home. He grew up in L.A. and when he left Indiana, his plan was that he would be in L.A. in a year. So you have to credit Oklahoma City for really turning his head on that. … And Houston will be aggressive to try to see if there’s a way to get him there.

According to Dean Blevins of New 9 in Oklahoma City, he was told that George’s agent is telling people within the NBA that his client intends to re-sign with the Thunder this summer. Allegedly, apparently, Paul George plans to stay with the Thunder. I know. It’s not what people believe. But in separate conversations, I’m told P.G.’s agent has told people associated with the NBA that P.G. believes the injury loss of Andre Roberson was huge and he’s staying. Disclaimer, though: Believing everything that agents allegedly say can be dangerous to your health.
1 month ago via SLAM

Do the Blazers need Paul George to compliment you and Damian Lillard? CJ: “I already tried to get Paul George once. He already turned us down once. You can only shoot your shot so many times in the DMs before you just have to give up. He left me on red receipt, you know [laughs]. “But nah, he’s a cool dude, and he’s got to do what’s best for his family. He couldn’t control where he went. He ended up getting traded anyway to OKC. “I wish him nothing but the best, and I’m sure he’ll enjoy that California sunshine next season.” (Crowd laughs) CJ: “What? It’s the truth.”

Would you go after Paul George? Kevin Pritchard: “I would want to know first that he would fit us. We’re different now, Dan. One of the things we’re about, we don’t care about big names, we don’t care about big personalities, we don’t care about big brands. What we care about is being humble … Anybody that fits in, yeah we’re interested … I can’t talk on specific players. But if they don’t fit that, I’m not interested. It’s that simple.”

During a Sunday appearance on FOX Sports Radio’s “Chris and Caron,” Bryant cautioned against splitting up the club’s young core in favor of a more expedient return to title contention via free agency, with the likes of LeBron James and Paul George in L.A.’s crosshairs. “If you want to be a dynasty or a team that has longevity, those things take time, and generally are grown from within,” Bryant said (h/t Silver Screen and Roll’s Christian Rivas for the transcription). “You slap a couple All-Stars together, you can maybe win two of three, but eventually players get traded. But if you build a team organically, that dynasty team tends to stay together longer.”
3 months ago via ESPN

As the Oklahoma City Thunder battle to secure a playoff spot, Paul George said it’s not “championship or bust” for him as he evaluates this season with regard to his future free agency decision. “As I told Rachel [Nichols], I can see myself being here,” George said. “I’ve been happy here, I’ve been happy with the organization, happy with my teammates. Our record is not what we want it to be, but I think I’ve enjoyed just learning and being around these guys.”

Paul George’s candidness is unique. I can’t recall a player so openly flirting with the idea of leaving his current team. But what does it all mean, anyway? The latest noise from NBA executives is more of the same. Most buy into the fact George is drawn by Los Angeles and will leave unless the Thunder reach the NBA Finals. Others have become increasingly skeptical that he’d leave Oklahoma City. One executive said via text on Sunday that he could see George signing a one-year extension with the Thunder then reviewing his options for 2019 when a larger chunk of star free agents to potentially team up with will be available. The same is true for LeBron James, who led the rejuvenated Cavaliers to four straight wins entering the break.

How much emotional investment should I place in Paul George playing well for the Thunder? My heart can’t take another Kevin Durant situation. What’s your read? — Nicholas Quah STEIN: C’mon, Nicholas. It’s Valentine’s Day. Didn’t you hear what Selena Gomez said? The heart wants what it wants. This is sports, man. Don’t be rational. Go all-in on PG-13 staying with the Thunder. Of course, you’d be running the risk of heartbreak — again — but save your caution for the roadways and the rest of real life. If you can’t boundlessly wish and hope when it comes to your team, whoever it is, what’s the point? The signals George has been giving off so far, by the way, are as positive as they could possibly be at this point of the season. He’s not going to commit to staying in Oklahoma City in February, but there is legit hope that the idea is growing on him. Be brave. Dream big.

“Well, I mean I’m happy here,” George said. “I’m happy here. I’m happy with this group. At the end of the season, it’s still on my decision on what I need to do for my family. That has nothing to do with my happiness here though. I’ve been really happy. It’s a great organization to be a part of, but again, you know, I don’t want people looking at this and (saying) like, ‘Hey, because he said it’s his happiness at the end of the day (that he’s definitely re-signing).

Paul George feels “a real brotherhood” with Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony, he told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols in a sit-down interview, which aired Sunday. Talk of the Los Angeles Lakers has surrounded the five-time All-Star, who will become a free agent at the end of this season. The Lakers are not only George’s hometown team. He also requested to be traded there when he informed the Indiana Pacers he would not be re-signing come 2018 free agency. George has, however, been complimentary of the Oklahoma City Thunder since the team traded for him over the summer.

The Lakers, even have beating the Thunder on Sunday, have struggled, and talk of them bringing in multiple max free agents this summer, while still certainly possible, is not as emphatic around the NBA as it was at the start of the year. Part of that is because people aren’t as pessimistic about the Thunder’s chances of re-signing their best two-way player. “Of course, LA is home, so that’s always going draw the attention. But we’ll see. I won’t rule anything out, but I’m definitely happy where I’m at,” Paul George said to ESPN. “I like where we’re going, and I want to see how this unfolds.”

Happily, at long last for the Lakers, they’re warming up, if not red hot. It may be because Magic, still a charismatic figure, is in charge, or that Kupchak did a good job before being fired so that they finally have the right young players, even if none of them is Joel Embiid or Karl-Anthony Towns. Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma are showing signs of being special, as has Lonzo Ball in an earlier stage of development. Julius Randle, thought to be outward bound for cap room, has clawed his way up the pecking order. A year ago if you asked how many of their players had shown they were special as opposed to merely promising, the answer would have been none. Magic still dreams like a Laker, targeting the top free agents: Bron, Paul George and, at least until last week’s injury, DeMarcus Cousins.

When Larry Nance Jr. hears rumors about LeBron James, Paul George and/or DeMarcus Cousins potentially joining the Lakers, does he get excited? “Um, hmm. So-so. I mean, like I said, there are rumors that LeBron is going to go [everywhere]. There are rumors about everything. Obviously, everybody knows about the Paul George stuff and that whole saga. Now there’s [talk like], ‘LeBron may come to L.A. and he just bought a house there]!’ And yeah, we read all of that. We read all of the clickbait stuff. But in reality, we’re just focused on what’s in front of us. We’re just trying to be the best team we can be and if someone like LeBron James or Paul George or one of those stars does come here in the summer, then it’s like, ‘Whew! That would increase our win total by, like, 20!’ You read it. You look at it. But in terms of paying attention to it? Not too much.”

5 months ago via ESPN

Paul George hints at OKC return

A day after Russell Westbrook called his All-Star snub “outrageous,” Paul George told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols it was “awesome” to see his Thunder teammate support him, while also noting Westbrook is making George’s future free-agency decision “easier” to make. “Russ is the reason why this decision is becoming even more easier to make, is the character Russ [has],” George said on Wednesday. “A stand-up guy, and he has his teammate’s back.”

Sam Amick on Paul George’s future: “I’m torn on this one. I might have spent a little bit too much time with Paul out in Oklahoma City. Going into this season, I got a strong sense [he would stay]. I know you remember when he came out strong and said that the Thunder had already done everything to prove that they’re a championship-caliber organization. He set this early tone that he didn’t want to go anywhere. But we all knew that we’d have to see how it all played out. I feel like I’m on the fence here. The Lakers thing is real, but he has said consistently that winning and the long-term view and the on-court stuff is the No. 1 factor. So I’m going to take him at his word. I can’t really answer [where he lands] until I know what this OKC team does. We do know this: He has said it’s not a ‘championship or bust’ equation in his head.

Sam Amick: So Paul is on record saying they don’t have to win it all this year for him to want to come back. Does that mean they have to make the Conference Finals? Does that mean it just depends on how he’s feeling [about the situation] even if they only make it to the second round? The playoffs are going to be big. He likes the group. He likes the organization. They’re starting to work out the kinks and figuring out how to all play together… I’m going to say let’s wait until the playoffs and see what happens [before predicting what George will do].”

It would be silly for George to tip his hand when he hasn’t seen all his cards yet. Any combo of Banana Boat riders and him would be formidable anywhere, and the pull of Los Angeles is strong throughout the league. But the Thunder aren’t folding, either. OKC has Westbrook, and it has Anthony, and it has George’s Bird Rights, and that’s way more than almost anybody else is showing at the moment. “Of course, I keep saying L.A. is home, so it’s always going to be a destination,” George said. “But again, I’ll be stupid if we make the conference finals, or we go neck and neck with the Warriors, and this being our first year together, I’d be stupid to walk away from that.”
6 months ago via ESPN

“I’ve been dealing with this L.A. stuff for so long, it’s easy to tunnel-vision it, block it all and throw the blinders and shades on,” he said. “I’m a Thunder. I could care less of what speculation is, or what rumors are; I’m enjoying where I’m at right now, I’m enjoying this process, I’m enjoying growing with these guys in this locker room. I’m not worried or dealing with that until the summer’s here. “I’m fine where we’re at, and I’m fine where I’m at.”

Michael Lee on Paul George’s free agency: “I think he wants to win, first and foremost. I think he’d love to win in L.A., knowing what success in Los Angeles can do for you from a business perspective, from a marketing perspective and just from a legacy perspective. If you win with the Lakers, you’re elevated to a higher place since it’s a storied franchise and the league’s glamour spot. If he could win there, I think that would be great for him. But I think his No. 1 objective is that he wants to win. I mean, he’s 27 now; he’s not getting any younger, he’s in his prime and he’s overcome a lot to get back to being an elite player again. He’s going to explore everything, but I think he’ll go with the place that gives him the best shot at winning. If he can’t find a place where winning at a high level is inevitable, going home is probably his next best option.”

In some circles, the Lakers are still considered the front-runners. The Thunder hasn’t given George many reasons to commit long-term, even after OKC GM Sam Presti was hailed for trading off four role players for George and Anthony. Reigning MVP Russell Westbrook has looked lost with George and Anthony. At the core of the problem: They’ve got three prolific scorers who are most suited for iso-ball, not for playing the team-oriented brand of basketball played by West-leading Houston and the Warriors. At 12-13 and coming off a home loss to Charlotte, which had won only one road game all season, the Thunder has the 25th offensive rating, at 102.1. They’ve lost a host of games after squandering big leads. “At some point it’s got to stop,’’ George said earlier this week.

Natural speculation has followed, something George is used to from his former days with the Indiana Pacers and from previous reports about him potentially ending up with the Los Angeles Lakers once he hits free agency in 2018. “I’ve been so used to that type of chatter, being in Indiana, the whole L.A. [thing], I’ve been used to that,” he said Tuesday. “So, it doesn’t get to me. At the end of the day, it’s my decision, and I’ve always been happy where I’m at and what decision I make. So, I’m happy. Put it like that. I’m happy.”

The source says George has been impressed by the culture of the Thunder and how meticulous general manager Sam Presti and the organization are in building the roster and the franchise. George was impressed that the front office “had the (guts),” in the source’s words, to put everything on the line in getting him, and followed it up by getting Anthony without giving up any of the team’s core group. (The Thunder showed who it thought was more important to the team by re-signing defensive hound/offensive liability Andre Roberson for $30 million over three years, while including the offensively potent but defensively sieve-like Enes Kanter in the Anthony trade.)

It all adds up to a message by the Thunder — we want to win, and we will take care of our players — that George has heard loud and clear before playing his first game in an Oklahoma City uniform. “We’ve been on an unbelievable start right now, and for him to be committed here, it says a lot,” he told the media on Saturday. “Not only in us pairing together, but just knowing what type of dude Russ is and his values and his beliefs and him being committed to this organization says a lot. And I’m one person that’s enjoying it here, so I think when (free agency) comes, the decision will be easier to make for myself.”
9 months ago via ESPN

While Westbrook’s future is settled, and George’s now lurches to the forefront, Anthony dismissed any talk of what he might be thinking long term. “I’m gonna tell you right now, I’m not even answering those questions,” Anthony said. “I don’t even want to touch those questions right now. I don’t even want to alter my focus and my vision right now, being in training camp and trying to get things rolling, trying to establish/re-establish something here.”
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June 23, 2018 | 7:10 pm EDT Update
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On behalf of his foundation, Emmanuel Mudiay hosted dozens of young basketball players for a camp at the National Basketball Players Association on Saturday in conjunction with Go Hoop Day. He took some time to answer a few questions about the Knicks. Here, he talks about how all the players have a fresh start under new coach David Fizdale: “We’re all kind of starting from scratch. But it’s a positive scratch. It’s big to see that people are actually loving what the front office is doing, loving what the coaching staff is doing. Everybody’s supportive. So that’s a good thing.”
22 mins ago via ESPN
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22 mins ago via ESPN
June 23, 2018 | 6:00 pm EDT Update