It wasn’t the storybook ending to the season that the Oklahoma City Thunder had dreamt up. Despite bringing in reinforcements for MVP Russell Westbrook, the team ultimately fell victim to the much younger Utah Jazz in just six first-round games. Now, all eyes are turning to the man who was brought in to help yank the Thunder out of limbo, Paul George.
Where Will Paul George Land Next Season
George, who has a player option worth $20.7 million next season, has the opportunity to spurn OKC in favor of a more appealing destination. So the question of where Paul George will land next season looms heavy. It’s not only the Thunder but the entire NBA landscape that will shift depending on his decision. With that said, let’s take a deeper look at a few of the most enticing potential destinations.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Perhaps the most obvious decision for George would be to simply stay put in Oklahoma City. He gets to continue playing along with a decorated superstar, in Westbrook and allows himself the possibility of earning more money. Should he stick around in the Sooner state, George stands to earn a five-year max deal worth $177 million. If he were to opt out, however, his earning value decreases drastically. The most that a competing team would be able to extend would be a four-year deal capping out at $132 million.
Despite rumors that have surfaced following their exit from the playoffs, OKC GM Sam Presti is optimistic that the star small forward will return next season. Even George himself had expressed his interest in re-joining the team just after their game 6 loss.
“I’d love to remain a Thunder.” said George in his post-game interview after the Thunder were eliminated in game 6 against the Jazz.
The veteran did go on to acknowledge that he would be taking the summer to reflect on his future plans. The Thunder must be active in free agency to entice George. Decision making on role players can often impact the decisions of stars.
Los Angeles Lakers
There’s no place like home, and for George home is in Palmdale, California. George grew up just 64 miles outside of Los Angeles and has been linked to the Lakers for several years. A few things regarding this potential option are for certain. First is the Lakers have an impressive young nucleus. Their fast offensive system allows for a free flow amongst their young stars. Second, the Lakers indeed have the cap space to pay George.
The Fresno State alum has been rumored to be returning home ever since he forced his way out of Indiana last year. While OKC will be clamoring to retain the star, who averaged 21.9 PPG and 5.7 RBG, you can bet your tookus that Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka will be exhausting all resources to do the same.
After all, it’s not like George has strong ties to the Oklahoma community, after spending such ample time there. The biggest selling point here will be familiarity, and the Lakers would be wise to stress that.
I am a firm believer that the 76ers will be acquiring LeBron James this offseason. However, George is a stellar back-up plan. As one of only a handful that could afford the All-Star, Philly could assemble an NBA-altering big three. Of all the teams in contention for George, the Sixers are legitimately close to grappling for a championship. After all, they are still in strong position to represent the East in the finals this season.
While home is nice, and playing with an MVP propels your game, there is nothing quite like Trusting the Process. Having the opportunity to join Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons is a huge selling factor. Dwyane Wade praised the two youngsters, going as far as calling them the NBA’s future.
For Paul George, the budding 76ers present an intriguing an offer as any other interested team. The 76ers are quickly becoming the hottest ticket in basketball, and George seemingly has a compatible skillset.
Sidenote: There is no way this guy goes back to Indiana, right?