If the Oklahoma City Thunder want to keep Paul George, they’ll have to do it the hard way.
George has informed Thunder officials he’ll decline the $20.7 million player option on the final year of his contract and hit unrestricted free agency July 1, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Thursday, citing league sources.
That doesn’t rule out George re-upping with OKC, though: The 28-year-old forward remains “seriously interested” in signing a new deal with the Thunder in free agency, per Wojnarowski.
But George reportedly also will give “serious consideration” to the Los Angeles Lakers, who long have been pegged as favorites to sign the Palmdale, Calif., native. George even informed the Indiana Pacers he planned to sign with the Lakers this summer before being traded to OKC last July.
The Philadelphia 76ers, Houston Rockets and “several other teams” are interested in landing George, according to Wojnarowski, although this looks like a two-horse race between the Lakers and Thunder.
George’s pending free agency adds further intrigue in L.A., which reportedly is facing “mounting pressure” to acquire Kawhi Leonard in a trade that would convince LeBron James to sign with the Lakers in free agency. James reportedly doesn’t want to come to L.A. unless at least one other star comes with him, but if he has an assurance George will join the Lakers, that possibly could convince him to do the same.
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