Paul George may return to the Oklahoma City Thunder. However, it won't be on his current contract, according to a new report.
George has a player option for $20.7 million for the upcoming season. As expected, George will reportedly opt-out ahead of the Friday night deadline.
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski has the scoop. He confirms the many reports that indicate that the Thunder remain a major player for George, as do the Lakers.
Woj mentions a few other teams too, though. The Philadelphia 76ers appear poised to try and make a run at one of the massive free agents set to hit the market, and he names the Houston Rockets as a possibility as well.
Paul George may remain in Oklahoma City, but it could be for just one more season.
The prevailing theory seems to be that he will go with a one season deal for 2018-19, with a player option for 2019-2020. That would give him the flexibility to wait out the potential that the Lakers don't land a big fish this off-season, and see what the team can do on the 2019 free agent market. From Woj's report:
George is eligible to sign a five-year, $176 million contract extension this summer with the Thunder. That may be a less likely scenario than a shorter contract that could allow him more control over his future.
George could do a "one-plus-one" contract and return to free agency next summer. George will reach 10 years of service in 2020, making him eligible to sign a four-year, $169 million maximum contract with a team with cap space.
George and LeBron James are two of the three major Laker targets this off-season, along with San Antonio Spurs wing Kawhi Leonard. The first two are both sitting on player options that they are expected to opt-out of, while Leonard does not hit free agency until 2019.
The Lakers are reportedly working on a deal for Leonard, who has informed the San Antonio Spurs that he no longer wants to be part of the franchise. However, that could mean the team having to deal a load of assets, while they can likely sign Leonard straight away next off-season.