It’s official — Paul George is returning to the Oklahoma City Thunder on a 4-year (4 years?!), $137 million max-contract that includes a player option on the final season. The news was first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Long expected to bolt Oklahoma City and join his hometown Los Angeles Lakers at the first opportunity, George will return to the Thunder without as much as meeting with the Lakers and a number of interested suitors he was rumored to have around the league. The decision is a monster victory for Sam Presti and the Thunder — validating last summer’s trade on its one-year anniversary. No one expected that deal to result in the five-time All-Star committing his long-term future to the franchise. George’s friendship with Russell Westbrook is said to have been an integral part in how this has played out.
George is in Oklahoma City tonight for an exclusive party thrown by Westbrook and the Thunder organization. While the timing made it seem possible this would be the outcome, the news was hardly expected so early in the free agency process. He joined Westbrook on stage at the event — revealing his decision by saying “I’m here to stay.”
With George now officially back in the fold for the long haul, Presti and the Thunder can spend the remainder of the summer focusing on strengthening the roster. With Jerami Grant reportedly just agreeing to a three-year, $27 million contract of his own to remain in Okahoma City, the future just got remarkably brighter for basketball fans in the Sooner State.
Plenty more to come on this.