When the Oklahoma City Thunder traded the Indiana Pacers for Paul George, a lot of Thunder fans feared it would be a one-year rental. Former superstar forward Kevin Durant may have helped convince George to remain with the team beyond the 2017-18 season.
As Paul George spends his offseason in his home in California, training for the 2017-18 season with the Oklahoma City Thunder, many people speculate endlessly that this may just be a one-year rental for the team. Many outlets have reported George wants to play for his childhood team next season, the Los Angeles Lakers. But, according to Sports Illustrated, George was sold on the prospect of playing for Oklahoma City by former Thunder superstar forward Kevin Durant.
According to Sports Illustrated:
“KD was like, ‘That place will blow you away,’” George says. “He told me, ‘They can offer what other teams can’t in terms of the people and the preparation and the facility, down to the chefs and the meals.’ He was pretty high on them. He thought it was a first-class organization in every way.”
Whoa. These statements came out of left field as Kevin Durant seemed to burn every bridge with every Thunder fan and Oklahoma City resident alike. Here is a reaction from social media.
Durant helping sell George on the franchise certainly will help Oklahoma City's chances of retaining him. According to Sports Illustrated, another player that has talked to George about staying in Oklahoma City was former disgruntled guard Reggie Jackson simply saying George will, "Love it there."
The talks with Durant and Jackson have indeed set with George. With PG the Thunder would be a Western Conference contender for years to come alongside Russell Westbrook. According to Sports Illustrated:
“I grew up a Lakers and a Clippers fan,” George says. “I idolized Kobe. There will always be a tie here, a connection here. People saying I want to come here, who doesn’t want to play for their hometown? That’s a dream come true, if you’re a kid growing up on the outskirts of L.A., to be the man in your city. But it’s definitely been overstated. For me, it’s all about winning. I want to be in a good system, a good team. I want a shot to win it. I’m not a stats guy. I’m playing this game to win and build a legacy of winning. I’ve yet to do that. I’m searching for it. If we get a killer season in Oklahoma, we make the conference finals or upset the Warriors or do something crazy, I’d be dumb to want to leave that.”
The Paul George to the Los Angeles Lakers bandwagon may have finally lost a wheel or two after George sat down with Sports Illustrated and shared his thoughts on his upcoming season with the Oklahoma City Thunder. While the Lakers are still a threat to the Thunder for George's talents next season, they have a fighting chance. The defensive potential between a trio of George, Andre Roberson and Steven Adams alone will make the Thunder an elite defensive squad under head coach Billy Donovan. Also, the Thunder are now much better equipped to survive the gauntlet of the NBA's Western Conference by adding role players like Patrick Patterson and Raymond Felton to a talented roster.
Next season will be exciting, but if George does end up staying in Oklahoma City, fans will have to thank Kevin Durant. While Durant is currently public enemy number one, the team being able to retain a top ten talent in George would help ease a lot of the tension between Durant and his former team. George will be introduced as the newest member of the Oklahoma City Thunder in a press conference Wednesday, July 12 at 7 PM EST.