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Paul George: Lakers were ‘tempting’ in free agency

Oklahoma City Thunder v Los Angeles Lakers

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 03: Paul George #13 of the Oklahoma City Thunder drives past Josh Hart #5 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Staples Center on January 3, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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Paul George was reportedly telling friends during his last days with the Pacers that he planned to sign with the Lakers. While on the Thunder, he spoke multiple times about the appeal of Los Angeles.

But he pledged to return to Oklahoma City in the first hour of free agency (and apparently decided weeks prior).

Why didn’t the Southern California native even meet with the Lakers, who had a pitch ready and LeBron James incoming?

George, via Marc J. Spears of ESPN:

“It was absolutely tempting,” George said. “Honestly, I wanted to come back home. But again, I got traded to Oklahoma. Loved the situation. Loved where I was at. I decided to stick around a little longer. ...

“I just wanted my free agency to be over with. In my heart, I felt great about Oklahoma and I wasn’t going to prolong it if I felt good about it already.”

I appreciate George’s openness throughout this process. Just as he spoke of his desire to play for the Lakers, he also talked about his desire to stay with the Thunder. Sometimes, you’re faced with multiple attractive offers and must choose between them. It’s to George’s credit he built himself into an elite basketball player several NBA teams were courting.

But I do wonder why he didn’t even meet with the Lakers. He didn’t expect to like Oklahoma City as much as he did when he arrived, but he grew to appreciate it. Even if he didn’t expect the Lakers to win him over, maybe they too would have surprised him.