PAUL George has not officially played his first game as part of the Oklahoma City Thunder, but the All-Star forward is already impressed with the commitment his new team is showing to build a title contender.
The Thunder made the biggest moves in the offseason in adding George via trade last July and bringing in another All-Star in Carmelo Anthony through a separate deal just before training camp opened. Then on Friday (Saturday, Manila time), reigning MVP and OKC star Russell Westbrook signed the largest contract in NBA history with a five-year, $205M extension to stay with the Thunder.
George, who will become an unrestricted free agent next offseason, lauded the move and pointed out that Westbrook staying put will play a key role in his free agency decision next year.
“We've been on an unbelievable start right now, and for him to be committed here, it says a lot. Not only in us pairing together, but just knowing what type of dude Russ is and his values and his beliefs and him being committed to this organization says a lot,” George said to reporters Saturday (Sunday, Manila time).
“And I'm one person that's enjoying it here, so I think when that time comes, the decision will be easier to make for myself."
The buzz surrounding the Los Angeles native George even before he got dealt to OKC is that he’s setting his sights on joining his hometown team, the Lakers, when he becomes a free agent. The Lakers have even been slapped a $500K fine for tampering by the NBA in having contact with George’s agent.
But with Westbrook showing his loyalty to OKC, the present and future of the Thunder looks bright enough for George to stay. Same is true with Anthony, who could hit free agency next year if he exercises is player option.
“I was happy, I was happy. Everybody should be happy, everybody should be excited about right now [and] the future. He's the cornerstone of this organization, and he's proven that yesterday by agreeing to that deal not only showing this organization his commitment, but showing [Oklahoma City] his commitment to them, too,” said Anthony, who refused to talk about his own free agency decision as he wanted to focus on training camp.
“I don't even want to touch those questions right now. I don't even want to alter my focus and my vision right now, being in training camp and trying to get things rolling, trying to establish/re-establish something here” he added.