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Lakers Dodged A Bullet Missing Out On Paul George

03 Juillet 2018

It began with an ESPN report that George had returned to Oklahoma City earlier Saturday to attend a Saturday night party, hosted by Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook, near Lake Arcadia.

George averaged 21.9 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 79 games this season for the Thunder and was named a third-team All-NBA performer.

While Westbrook's reason to throw the party is apparently unknown, the guest list certainly seems to suggest the Thunder are using the opportunity to woo George.

But for the Thunder, the plan could be to keep George even longer. James will have his streak of nine consecutive NBA Finals tested this season, though the Lakers roster could be reshaped with a trade for Kawhi Leonard and other free agent signings. The Trail Blazers' Wade Baldwin was feeling a little unnerved by the increased star power in his conference, at least if this tweet was any indication: "The West gets spookier every year".

George became an unrestricted free agent on Thursday after declining his player option.

So why did Paul George choose small-market Oklahoma City over the glitz & glamour of LA? James was in Los Angeles and is also being pursued by the Lakers, who have enough salary-cap space to sign him and another star player.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, George has committed to signing a deal to remain with the Thunder.

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. But considering the Thunder would be well north of $25 million over the luxury tax line in that scenario, that would take Oklahoma City's combined payroll and luxury taxes up to roughly $255 million.

Meanwhile, George played well in OKC, but the Thunder got off to a bad start, struggled to find its footing, eventually got better and ended up with the same record as Indiana. Lakers fans were holding onto hope that his return to his hometown would mark a new era for the franchise, with many singing his praises before anything was set in stone. And that could indeed be the case as many National Basketball Association officials are convinced James, George and Leonard will be playing for the Lakers next season.

LA will still be there in three or four years, if he wants to still play there.

Lakers Dodged A Bullet Missing Out On Paul George