The NBA world loves a good rumor, and few have been more persistent than Paul George playing for his hometown Los Angeles Lakers.
In fact, that rumor has endured even after the Indiana Pacers traded George to the Oklahoma City Thunder, who are not the Lakers. George’s contract expires in 2018 (with a player option for the 2018-19 season), so the theory is he’ll spend one season in OKC before finally coming home to L.A.
George is pushing back against that narrative, though. In an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins, the 27-year-old admitted he grew up “idolizing” Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, but that doesn’t mean he’s hell bent on joining them.
“People saying I want to come here, who doesn’t want to play for their hometown?” George told Jenkins. “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 (Golden State) Warriors or do something crazy, I’d be dumb to want to leave that.”
Reading between the lines here, it’s pretty simple: The Thunder have one season to convince George to stick around. If they make a serious playoff run, he could stay, but if they get bounced early, there’s probably a pretty good shot he heads to L.A. anyway.
Jenkins’ full article is worth a read, as it also details how Kevin Durant helped sway George to OKC in a interesting twist of fate.
Thumbnail photo via Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports Images