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Paul George: If Thunder build foundation and are trending up, it’d be ‘stupid’ to leave

Brandon Ingram, Paul George, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Oklahoma City Thunder’s Paul George, center, drives past Los Angeles Lakers’ Brandon Ingram, left, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)


Paul George said he’d be “dumb” to leave the Thunder if they reached the conference finals or upset the Warriors.

Russell Westbrook doesn’t want to take that chance. He called a championship the sales pitch he wants to deliver George entering free agency.

But now George – who keeps at least hinting at a future with the Lakers – is moving away from setting such distinct lines.

George, via ESPN:

“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.”

Whether Oklahoma City has built a foundation and in trending upward will probably be in the eye of the beholder. In this case, only George’s assessment will matter.

A key question: What will George set as the initial baseline? If it’s the Thunder’s slow start this season, they already look on track. If it’s their five-game, first-round loss last season, that looks achievable. If it’s the conference finals George already twice reached with the Pacers, that’s a much higher bar.

George has committed to Oklahoma City for the rest of this season. No matter how he precisely decides, whether he stays beyond will clearly depend on how the Thunder perform in the playoffs.