The Thunder have a pair of Staples Center dates on their schedule this week, with games against the Lakers on Wednesday and the Clippers on Thursday. As a result, Paul George has been prompted by reporters to revisit his reported desire to be dealt to the Lakers this past offseason. Asked about that on Tuesday, George confirmed that he would have “loved to go back home and play for my city,” but called the deal that sent him to Oklahoma City a “win-win.”
Of course, it wasn’t necessarily a “win” for the Lakers, who missed out on George and were subsequently fined $500K for tampering with the Pacers. The NBA’s official announcement on that fine suggested that GM Rob Pelinka had improper contact with George’s agent, but the former Pacers forward suggested today that the penalty stemmed from interactions he had with Lakers associate head coach Brian Shaw.
“There was no tampering at all,” George said of the Lakers and his conversations with Shaw (link via Bill Oram of The Orange County Register). “The only thing me and B-Shaw ever spoke about was fishing, and challenge each other on fishing trips. B-Shaw has way, way, way better class than to try to recruit me.”
Sources confirmed to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN that the league’s investigation did probe the relationship between George and Shaw, but found no evidence of tampering on that front.
Here’s more on the Lakers, including another note on George:
- Russell Westbrook isn’t preparing a sales pitch for George to keep him in Oklahoma City and away from the Lakers, preferring to let the Thunder’s results speak for themselves, tweets Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times. “Sales pitch is when we win a championship,” Westbrook said. “Beat that pitch.”
- Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report explores whether or not it makes sense for the Lakers to try to push to acquire George before the trade deadline. Of course, as Pincus acknowledges, unless the Thunder slump in the coming weeks, George probably won’t be on the block.
- Having been initially ruled questionable for Wednesday night’s game against the Thunder, Lakers center Brook Lopez will be available to play, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN (Twitter link). Lonzo Ball will miss tonight’s game and is day-to-day.
- Speaking of Ball, Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report revisits the 2017 NBA draft and suggests that if teams were to re-draft today, Ball would slip to No. 4 instead of going second overall to the Lakers. Wasserman has Markelle Fultz going to the Lakers at No. 2, with the Sixers using the top pick on Jayson Tatum. Kyle Kuzma also soars into the lottery in Wasserman’s hypothetical re-draft, going fifth overall to Sacramento.