Sport NBA free agency rumors: Don't rule out Paul George returning to Thunder

02:45  14 june  2018
02:45  14 june  2018 Source:   sportingnews.com

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Thunder forward Paul George has been at the center of nearly all of the NBA free agent rumors surrounding the Lakers this season, but he still might stay in Oklahoma City. By Harrison Faigen@hmfaigen May 10, 2018, 6:20pm PDT. Share.

Top Events NBA NFL MLB NHL NCAAF NCAAB Soccer. Paul George on the Thunder and Free Agency : 'I can see myself being here'. Asked Friday about a future landing place, George didn' t rule out returning to Oklahoma City.

As soon as the Jazz eliminated the Thunder in the first round of the 2018 NBA playoffs, all eyes in Oklahoma City turned toward Paul George. Rumors have been swirling around the soon-to-be unrestricted free agent all season long, and multiple reports have him leaving OKC and joining the Lakers alongside LeBron James.

But the Thunder still have a good chance to keep the five-time All-Star, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times. From Stein's most recent newsletter:

Paul George, Russell Westbrook are posing for a picture: Thunder's Paul George and Russell Westbrook © (Getty Images) Thunder's Paul George and Russell Westbrook

There is a growing belief around the league that Oklahoma City has a far better chance to retain the free agent-to-be Paul George than many believed when the Thunder crashed out of the first round of the playoffs.

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Storyline: Paul George Free Agency . 145 rumors in this storyline. Despite that, Adrian Wojnarowski reported on ESPN’s “ NBA Draft: On the Clock” special that the Oklahoma City Thunder very much remain in contention to re -sign George , while the Houston Rockets will make a strong effort to acquire

Paul George Free Agency Rumors : Thunder Star Reportedly 'Gone'. After a disappointing season in Oklahoma City, Paul George may soon hit the free agent market. Many conflicting reports have emerged about George 's future.

As George prepares to field the Lakers' long-anticipated interest, his willingness to post an Instagram picture of himself last month from a hospital bed after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee has helped to fuel the notion in some corners that he's in no rush to leave OKC.

George made it clear in April the final result of the season wouldn't "persuade or indicate where I'm going to this offseason," so this shouldn't come as a huge surprise. He has also grown close to triple-double machine Russell Westbrook, saying this past season the 2017 NBA MVP was making his decision "easier."

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Thunder Rumors : LeBron and Paul George to discuss mutual free agency decision. James Harden takes home NBPA MVP Award as Thunder favorites feature prominently. NBA Free Agency . Fantasy Basketball .

Lakers Free Agent Rumors : Paul George is ‘gone’ after first-round exit with the Thunder . New, 51 comments. At 27 years old, George will hit unrestricted free agency for the first time in his seven-year NBA career.

"Russ is the reason why this decision is becoming even more easier to make, is the character Russ [has]," George said in January (via ESPN's Royce Young). "A stand-up guy, and he has his teammate's back."

This is all positive news for Thunder general manager Sam Presti, who sent Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis to the Pacers last summer in exchange for George. OKC's front office is ready to sign a big check to keep George, even if it means paying a hefty tax bill.

George, who averaged 21.9 points per game and shot 40.1 percent from 3-point range in 2017-18, could re-sign with the Thunder on a five-year deal worth around $175-180 million (starting at just over $30 million in the first season). Assuming George stays and Carmelo Anthony takes his $27.9 million player option — and factoring in the repeater tax, which hits teams for exceeding the tax threshold in three out of the previous four seasons — OKC could be looking at a $250-300 million roster.

But none of that matters if George isn't willing to commit to the Thunder. There are reasons to believe he will remain in Oklahoma City, but free agency is always full of surprises, especially with the Lakers lurking in the background.

NBA free agency rumors: Rockets confident they’ll re-sign Chris Paul .
Paul, a nine-time All-Star, averaged 18.6 points and 7.9 assists per game for Houston last season.The 33-year-old point guard opted into the final year of his contract with the Clippers before he was traded to Houston last offseason. Paul is set to enter free agency this summer, but the Rockets believe he will remain in Houston, according to a report from USA Today.

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