Paul George not only committed to Oklahoma City next season, he committed for at least three more seasons.
The 28-year-old announced his move at a party held by teammate and All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook on Saturday night prior to the start of the free agency period. When trading for George the assumption was that he would walk away after a year and go sign in Los Angeles with the Lakers. Maxing out George will push the Thunder far over the luxury-tax line if they re-sign key reserve Jerami Grant.
Were he to sign with any National Basketball Association team other than Oklahoma City, the max contract available to him would span four years and pay $130 million, $46 million less than the Thunder can pay him.
George declined to exercise his player option for 2018-19, making him an unrestricted free agent as of midnight. The trade looked lopsided in favor of the Thunder at the time, but Oladipo's ascendence to All-Star status combined with OKC's up-and-down season evened the scales a bit. The deal is reportedly for 4 years, $137 million.
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He arrived via trade with the Philadelphia 76ers in November 2016 in exchange for Ersan Ilyasova and a 2020 top-20 protected first-round pick.
ESPN's Royce Young tweeted that Westbrook "left a family vacation in Hawaii to fly eight hours to Oklahoma City to host this party". Fans hoped to see George and LeBron James sign with the Lakers to create a team that could compete against the Golden State Warriors, who've won the NBA Championship two years in a row after former Oklahoma City star Kevin Durant shocked the world and signed with them two years ago creating a so-called "super team".
The 6-foot-8, 220-pounder averaged 21.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists and a career-best 2.0 steals this past season with the Thunder.
The news means the Thunder will be able to keep together the starting five that finished fourth in the Western Conference this year, which also includes Kiwi centre Steven Adams.