Paul George: Championship readiness not only selling point in free agency this summer
From NBA media reports
Paul George’s future in 2018’s free agency created lots of nervous moments for Indiana Pacers fans last season. Ultimately, he was dealt to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the offseason, clearing that off the minds of Pacers fans. Yes, he has been linked to a potential homecoming with the Los Angeles Lakers at times over the last few years (and last season in particular).
* Recap: Thunder 133, Lakers 96
As of this morning, though, the Thunder are better primed for immediate — and perhaps, future — success. In an interview with ESPN before last night’s game against the Lakers in L.A., George talked about how this is not a championship-or-bust season for him in OKC and how the direction of the team will shape his decision come July.
“I’ve got a lot to think about,” George told ESPN before the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 133-96 win over the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center. “This summer will be huge. I’ve got a lot to think about. If we’re trending, if we’re going in the right direction, if I feel there is something that we’re building, and there’s a foundation — it would be kind of clueless, just stupid on my behalf to up and leave.
“I’m very conscious that we’re only together for a year so far, and we continue to go in an upward trend. It’s best to stick with what we have and work on building. So, I wouldn’t say it’s championship or bust, or championship and I’m out. It’s all about building. If I like where we’re building or the level that we’re going at, it would be stupid to walk away from that.”
George’s comments came in response to those made by teammate Russell Westbrook earlier Wednesday. Westbrook, the reigning league MVP, was asked if he needed to make a sales pitch to George to keep him in Oklahoma City.
“No. Sales pitch is gonna be when we win a championship,” Westbrook said. “Beat that pitch.”
“The biggest change was myself, Melo, telling Russ he has to be who he is,” George told ESPN. “All of us were kind of afraid to step on toes, deferring. I felt at times Russ was looking to get others involved when sometimes he has shots that he has to take, and it was throwing everybody out of rhythm. Now he knows that we got his back. We trust him, he trusts us. We got a rhythm. We’ve all been shooting the ball well lately. We’re in a group, we’re relaxed, we’re comfortable out there.”
The Thunder have stabilized after an 8-12 start, going 13-5 since then while also winning seven of their last nine games.