Paul George Spurns Los Angeles Lakers, Stays With Oklahoma City Thunder
on Jul 02, 2018 05:37 PM EDT
Instead of signing with the Los Angeles Lakers, All-Star forward Paul George made a surprising move as he inked a new deal to remain with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, George signed a four-year maximum contract worth $137 million to stay in Oklahoma City, including a player option in the fourth year.
George announced that he will stay with the Thunder during a party in Oklahoma City arranged by teammate Russell Westbrook. Rumors swirled that George will stay with the Thunder after Westbrook flew back to Oklahoma City amid a family vacation in Hawaii to arrange the party.
"I'm here to stay. We can bring it home," George announced amid cheers from around 500 party guests.
Westbrook was cupping a hand on his ear as George made his announcement.
"If y'all don't quite get it, let me say it again: I'm here to stay," George said as he reiterated his decision to play alongside Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony, who earlier exercised the $27.9 million player option in his contract for next season.
George's contract signing happened days after he had opted out of the $20.7 million player option in his deal with the Thunder. Last season, George averaged 21.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 3.3 assists in 79 games.
Paul George Expected To Join Lakers
The move came as a surprise for many Lakers fans who expected George to move to his hometown team. Before he was traded by the Indiana Pacers to the Thunder, George had expressed his intention to play for the Lakers.
George's dream of donning the Lakers' purple and gold jersey did not materialize as the Pacers instead shipped him to the Thunder for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. The trade gave the Thunder a trio of superstars that made them one of the favorites last season.
The three superstars Westbrook, Anthony, and George failed to find their chemistry early in the season. As the season got older, they eventually learned to play alongside each other, helping the Thunder clinch the No. 4 seed in the playoffs. However, the Thunder were eliminated in the first round of the postseason, losing to the Utah Jazz.
Analyst Stunned by Paul George's Decision
Analyst Brian Windhorst of ESPN was taken aback by George's decision to sign quickly with the Thunder. Windhorst said he was surprised that George did not give the Lakers a chance to meet with him during free agency.
"He walked away from $220 million in Indiana to have the chance to go to L.A., he didn't even give the Lakers a meeting," said Windhorst.
The analyst was referring to George's opportunity to earn a five-year maximum deal if he remained with the Pacers.