Paul George confirmed what most NBA fans had suspected for a long time when he said this week that was planning to sign with the Lakers before a trade to Oklahoma City changed his mind. George was expected to be among two max-level free agents headed to L.A. over the summer, but he liked the Thunder and his new city so much he elected to re-sign there.
“It was 50-50 on deciding whether I wanted to come back home or if it was smarter to be in the situation I am in now,” George said in an interview with Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. “But it wasn’t overstated. I wanted to play in L.A. That is where I wanted to go. Had that trade never went down, had I played one more year in Indy, I would have been in a Lakers uniform.”
We know now that if George had chosen the Lakers, he would have joined LeBron James to form a one-two punch that’s as good as any in the league. It also would have cost the team about $130MM over four years and would have eliminated the chance to lure another free agent from an extremely talented class next summer.
As it stands, L.A. has roughly $65.8MM committed for 2019/20, a number that moves closer to $69MM if the team opts to make a qualifying offer to Ivica Zubac and keep Svi Mykhailiuk on what is now a non-guaranteed deal. That leaves more than enough to make a max offer to Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler or any other upcoming free agent.
Durant and James would be a historically great combo if they decide to join forces, but it would be a difficult decision for him or Thompson leave the perennial champion Warriors. Leonard and James would also be formidable, but he reportedly doesn’t want to be a second banana and is leaning toward the Clippers if he comes to L.A. Butler might be a good running mate for James, but given his injury history and overall abrasiveness, he seems like the riskiest proposition. It’s laughable to think of Kyrie Irving traveling west to rejoin LeBron, but the other stars are at least plausible.
So which is better, Lakers fans? Would you rather have George in place for a run at the title this season or the financial flexibility to chase a big name next summer? Please leave your responses in the space below.