Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George will reportedly opt out of the final year of his contract with the Thunder. That does not, however, mean that he's leaving the organization.
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news. George has until 11:59 p.m. EST Friday to officially inform the team of his decision, but it seems all but certain.
Sources on ESPN: Oklahoma City Thunder star Paul George informs franchise that he is not opting into final year of his contract and will become an unrestricted free agent. https://t.co/skRquzhnjb— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 28, 2018
This wasn't a surprise. Opting in would have netted George $20.7 million next season. By opting out, PG-13's new salary could start at $30.6 million. That new salary could come from a new team—like, say, the Lakers—or from the Thunder.
Per Woj's report, George "is seriously considering a return to the Thunder, as well as the possibility of joining the Lakers or others." The Lakers have long been considered the front-runner to land the former Pacers star, with the Thunder as a potential contender as well.
Woj says on Sportcenter that Paul George became “comfortable” playing in OKC. Added he likes Sam Presti, Billy Donovan, and playing with Russell Westbrook. Woj says a year ago it was assured he was going to LA. Woj added, PG’s “thinking has changed” since then.— Dylan Buckingham (@DylanBuckingham) June 27, 2018
But they may not be the only two teams in the sweepstakes. Per the report, the Rockets and Sixers are also interested in George—and both those teams are in better position to contend for a title.
George could sign a five-year, $176 million deal with OKC if he wants long-term security. Given his apparent desire to someday return to his native Los Angeles and the Thunder's uncertain future, however, he may elect to sign a shorter deal. The best option, they say, is more options.