LeBron James goes to Lakers, PG13 stays in OKC
For over a year, Paul George was the second biggest name in trade talks, that would ship a star small-forward to a contender. On paper, many of us believed the Indiana Pacers were one of the sleeper teams last season. However, they would play under-performing .500 basketball throughout the entire season – before getting swept in the first round by Cleveland.
Visibly frustrated, many of the basketball world knew George’s tenure with the team would soon be over. His camp has privately pushed for the star swing-man to take his talents home to Los Angeles, which many executives around the league will be the final decision next summer.
However, PG13 spoke about his pending decision for the first time since being traded today. In an interview with Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated, George said that talk about the Lakers has been overstated and is using this season to see how he and Russell Westbrook perform together in the playoffs. Another first-round or second-round exit could make the decision for him, but Paul is optimistic about the possibility of winning a championship with the league’s MVP.
Before the interview ended, he surprisingly revealed that it was Kevin Durant who sold him the city of Oklahoma City before June’s big trade. Take a look at excerpts from the interview below.
On why Lakers talk has been overstated this summer.
“I grew up a Lakers and a Clippers fan. 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. It’s too early for Los Angeles. It would have to be a situation where the ball gets rolling and guys are hopping on. This guy commits, that guy commits. ‘Oh shit, now there’s a team forming.’ It has to be like that.
I’m in OKC, so hopefully me and Russ do a good enough job and make it to the conference finals and love the situation, why not recruit someone to come build it with us? I’m open in this whole process.”
How Kevin Durant convinced him on the Thunder trade.
“KD was like, ‘That place will blow you away.’ He told me, ‘They can offer what other teams can’t in terms of the people and the preparation and the facility, down to the chefs and the meals.’ He was pretty high on them. He thought it was a first-class organization in every way. I’m thrilled! All I was asking for was a little help in Indy.
Now I’m getting a lot of help in Oklahoma. I think I fit with how he plays and vice versa. 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.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) July 11, 2017