One of the dominating story lines of the NBA offseason was the drama surrounding Paul George and his apparent interest in leaving Indiana to sign with the Lakers as a free agent following the 2017-18 season. As soon as his interest was reported, the trade speculation frenzy began with George being connected to teams like the Cavaliers, Celtics, Rockets and of course, the Lakers. However, Indiana GM Kevin Pritchard instead agreed to deal George to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for guard Victor Oladipo and forward Domantas Sabonis.
Now, as George gets acclimated with his new team, he sat down with Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins for an interview in which, he commented for the first time publicly, about his interest in joining the Lakers saying that it’s been a little bit “overstated”.
“I grew up a Lakers and a Clippers fan,” George says. “I idolized Kobe. There will always be a tie here, a connection here. People saying I want to come here, who doesn’t want to play for their hometown? 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 Warriors or do something crazy, I’d be dumb to want to leave that.”
George didn’t officially deny interest in wanting to come to the Lakers in that response, but rather focused on winning as the main factor in his next decision about where to continue his career. For the Lakers, that will likely depend on them selling George on the idea of their young core and their ability to potentially add another big name free agent in next year’s class. For now, George will get four looks at the Lakers when they square off with the Thunder this upcoming season.