When Paul George agreed to a four-year, $137 million max deal with the Thunder this past summer, a lot of fans—even some in OKC—were perplexed. George was a native of Palmdale, California, and there had been real hints he was headed to Hollywood the moment his deal was up. But the 28-year-old didn't even meet with the Lakers. George later said if the Lakers had traded for him instead of the Thunder, things would have been different. But is that really true? Royce Young's feature for ESPN on George's decision to re-sign in Oklahoma City might cast the motives behind that decision in a different light.
"My thing is, I like if I go on that court and there's a guy I don't have to worry about," George says of complaints from former Russell Westbrook teammates about how his "why not?" mentality is more "me first" on the court. "He's going to bring it. When I look at [Westbrook], I have no worries that night about what I'm gonna get out of him. I know he's gonna bring it, he's going to give everything he has. I like that. That motivates me, that pushes me, that keeps me going."
However, unprompted, George brought up another player who he says might be difficult to play with. That player happens to now star for the Lakers. "You could say that about a lot of guys," George says of the difficulty in sharing the court with Russ. "LeBron is the best player in our league, but some people have a hard time playing with him. One thing you can't say about Russ is that he's not ready or he's not prepared. That's him every night."
Mmkay. Some will tweet the thinking-face emoji with a screencap of that Bron paragraph to lay the blame for missing out on PG-13 at the feet of James, that somehow the incongruence of that pairing, or LeBron's domineering presence, somehow turned George away from joining James in La La Land. That's a stretch, though, particularly because of the timing. George announced his intentions to stay in OKC late Saturday night, while flanked by Westbrook and Nas (and we're guessing a whole bunch of Cohibas). ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported LeBron's decision to sign with the Lakers on Sunday, well after George's news had broken. Regardless, George is a pretty big fan of his former rival in the East.