NBA star Paul George, formerly of Fresno State, received a rowdy welcome upon his arrival in Oklahoma City.
George was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder from the Indiana Pacers last month.
He has one year remaining on his contract before becoming an unrestricted free agent during the summer of 2018, and rumors already are circulating that he’ll bolt to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers.
But will Oklahoma City’s enthusiastic embrace of their new superstar be the first step in persuading George to re-sign with the Thunder?
George’s future will be one of the biggest storylines in the NBA this season.
Just as big of a story – and impactful to George’s future – will be how well the ex-Bulldog meshes with fellow Thunder superstar Russell Westbrook and how far they take Oklahoma City in the postseason.
George, considered one of the best small forwards in the league, averaged a career-high 23.7 points and shot a career-best 46.1 percent from the field and 89.8 percent from the free-throw line last season.
Russell is the reigning MVP after averaging a triple double with 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists.
If we get a killer season in Oklahoma ... I’d be dumb to want to leave that.
Former Fresno State star Paul George, who was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder this summer but will be an unrestricted free agent next year
“I think I fit with how he plays and vice versa,” George said in a Sports Illustrated article. “Being a knock-down shooter, I think I can spread the floor for him and run the floor with him. But I also think I can help get him easier opportunities, being able to drive and dish the ball out, so he can attack guys closing out on him.”
The Thunder will spend this entire season trying to convince George to stay long term, while the Lakers and other organizations might have to wait until the offseason to make their best case.
“There will always be a tie here, a connection here,” George said in the SI story of his link to California and growing up a Lakers and Clippers fan. “But it’s definitely been overstated.
“If we get a killer season in Oklahoma, we make the conference finals or upset the Warriors or do something crazy, I’d be dumb to want to leave that.”