Since he requested a trade from the Indiana Pacers last season, it was assumed that eventually he’d end up donning the purple and gold (he’d said as much). It was thought that short of a run to the Finals or a championship, his time in Oklahoma City was a mere pit stop on his way to tinsel town.
A report from Marc Stein of the New York Times, casts some doubt on that alleged forgone conclusion.
More than one rival team has suggested to me that they expect George to strongly consider a two-year deal with the Thunder at $30.3 million next season and $32.7 million in 2019-20 that includes a player option to return to free agency next summer.
A full five-year deal with the Thunder would be worth a guaranteed $176 million, as my trusted Twitter salary cap consultant @AlbertNahmad reminds me, but the short-term option does come with several potential benefits.
By signing what’s known as a “one-plus-one deal,” George would be giving himself more time to see how he likes Oklahoma City (and how the Thunder upgrade the roster) before making a longer commitment — while also locking in more than $60 million guaranteed as protection against another serious injury.
Last week Adrian Wojnarowski indicated the Thunder have a real shot at re-signing George:
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.
The Thunder may have chance to bring Paul George but there will undoubtedly be a slew of teams, the Lakers included, that will try to make a run at him. What he decides could reverberate throughout the NBA.