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One thing that appears to be a lock for an early announcement: Paul George returning to Oklahoma City.

"Bleacher Report" has predicted that Paul George will sign with the Lakers with just a few hours before free agency opens.

Anthony has exercised his $28 million option to stay with the Thunder for next season, doing so while insisting that he will not accept a role where he comes off the bench. Since his trade from IN, the Thunder and Lakers have always been considered the heavy favorites for George this summer, with the Philadelphia 76ers lurking as a dark-horse candidate, and that remains true now.

George re-signing with the Thunder validates the high praise he had for Russell Westbrook and the organization as a whole throughout the season. A young, talented Eastern Conference team like the 76ers would be more appealing for James if LA boasts no All-Star help.

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Several teams, including Philadelphia and Houston, are interested in pursuing George too, league sources said.

Based on this planned OKC barbecue hosted by Westbrook, it sure sounds like George and the Thunder have something cooking on the eve of free agency, and not just burgers and hot dogs. George said he is considering a lot of factors in making his free agency decision, describing the process as "overwhelming". It would certainly help if they're successful in luring LeBron James and/or concluding a trade for Kawhi Leonard. That could play into the patient strategy Johnson is professing, but the Lakers may have to push their chips to the center of the table much sooner than they might prefer, if they want to make James's Friday decision that much easier.

"Here they have made a huge risk in trading for me, knowing I have one year on my deal", George said, as transcribed by Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman. Oklahoma City acquired him last summer via trade from the Indiana Pacers.

In 79 games last season, George averaged 21.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists and two steals per game in 36.6 minutes per game. "They honestly check the boxes where I needed those boxes to be checked from what a player wants and needs out of a front office, out of a medical group, out of teammates, out of coaching staff".


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