According to Marc Stein of the New York Times, the rumors surrounding a Paul George return to Oklahoma City are gaining momentum. In today’s Marc Stein on Basketball newsletter, Stein reports:
“Since last week’s newsletter item about the Thunder’s better-than-expected chances of retaining the All-Star forward Paul George in free agency, I’ve heard even more support around the league for the idea that Oklahoma City can really convince George to stay.
No deal is done until it’s done, as they say, so there will be no tangible relief in O.K.C. until George officially spurns his hometown Los Angeles Lakers this summer to stay put alongside Russell Westbrook. Kevin Durant’s departure in 2016 is still too fresh — as is George’s well-chronicled interest to play in L.A. — for any premature celebrations.”
That’s positive, right? It gets better.
“It has reached the point that potential contract scenarios are starting to circulate. More than one rival team has suggested to me that they expect George to strongly consider a two-year deal with the Thunder at $30.3 million next season and $32.7 million in 2019-20 that includes a player option to return to free agency next summer.”
All of this is very interesting.
If Stein is correct, the odds of George re-upping in Oklahoma City for at least another season are looking better and better. While such a deal would put the Thunder back in this familiar situation again next summer, it gives Sam Presti, Russell Westbrook, and the rest of the organization another chance at convincing PG13 to sign for the long haul. As Stein later states, a 5-year extension for George this offseason would net a guaranteed $176 million, but the flexibility provided by the short-term deal may be the best option for five-time All-Star right now.
Plenty more to come, I’m sure. Cautious optimism on the rise.