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South California native Paul George admitted that he was tempted to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers before joining the Oklahoma City Thunder.
George, who signed four-year $137 million deal with the Thunder, said that he wanted to go home to California prior to being traded by the Indiana Pacers in 2017. The LA Lakers made their pitch of recruiting George with the “We Want Paul” chants when the Thunder played at the Staples Center.
“It was absolutely tempting. Honestly, I wanted to come back home. But again, I got traded to Oklahoma. Loved the situation. Loved where I was at. I decided to stick around a little longer,” George said.
The five-time All-Star also praised the Thunder’s gamble of re-signing him despite the constant speculation that he would be heading to the LA Lakers in this summer’s free agency. It can be recalled that Thunder GM Sam Presti made a risk by trading Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis to Indiana without being certain that George will re-sign with the Thunder.
George added that 2017 NBA Most Valuable Player Russell Westbrook made every effort to convince him to stay in Oklahoma. The 28-year-old George also sang praises for Westbrook, whom he called as genuine, authentic, and real. George added that he wants to be around Westbrook, citing that the latter encourages and motivates him to play.
George Was An Ideal Backup For James
Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver thinks that George would have been an ideal teammate for LeBron James. Golliver added that had George signed with LA, it would greatly help the Lakers of getting Kawhi Leonard.
However, LA’s dream of a Big 3 has vanished into thin air after George re-signed with the Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs traded Kawhi Leonard to the Toronto Raptors. Currently, James is playing alongside numerous youngsters and players who are on one-year deals.
Huge Signing For The Thunder
George, who put up a great all-around number of 21.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 2 steals last season is set to provide the Thunder with an offensive boost after losing Carmelo Anthony early this offseason. Anthony, who averaged 16.2 points last season, was traded by the Thunder to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for Dennis Schroder.
Oklahoma entered last season with high expectations after bringing George and Anthony to team up with Westbrook. However, the team failed to put up a good impression after being eliminated by the Utah Jazz in the first round.
Aside from Schroder, the Thunder, which was part in the three-team trade with the Hawks and the Philadelphia 76ers, is also set to receive Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot. The Thunder earlier acquired Nerlens Noel.
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