Although the dust has yet to settle on the disappointing 2017-18 Oklahoma City Thunder, we have our first “I heard Paul George is leaving OKC” report of the offseason. According to ESPN’s Ryen Russillo, PG13 will be relocating when free agency opens up on July 1. Citing an unnamed source that he trusts, Russillo said:
“Today is the first time I’ve heard from anybody that I trust that George is gone…
I’m skeptical of sharing it and I’m just doing it because of the podcast or whatever, but all of us were watching like, ‘Why would you even come back to this thing?’ And I was like, Where is he going then? And (the source) was like, ‘All we know is that he’s gone.’
I know what Royce Young said and I saw that coverage of it. Royce is fantastic and he would know better than I because he’s there. But Paul George also is somebody who knows what to say. But I wouldn’t trust anything he said.”
And the audio:
If reports such as these upset you, it’s probably best to disconnect your television and stay off the Internet for a while. Thunder fans are no stranger to the “will he stay or will he go?” game, as it’s become a summer tradition unlike any other. Kevin Durant had it going after the 2015-16 season, Russell Westbrook was the focus last offseason, and now it’s George’s turn. We’ve all known this was coming since Sam Presti acquired him last June. This is the least surprising thing to happen in quite some time.
While Russillo may very well be right — after all, George’s affinity for Los Angeles came directly from his mouth — it’s important to remember that it’s May 1 and a lot can happen between now and July. As Royce Young pointed out after the Game 6 loss in Utah, “George has talked repeatedly about “building” with this group, and he even referenced it being ‘Year 1.'” There’s plenty yet to unfold here. Start panicking now and you’ve committed to a lengthy struggle.
In the meantime, prepare yourselves for a number of stories like these. Some will be believable and others won’t. Until George makes his decision or says he’s leaving outright, we’re looking at a few months of unnamed sources and speculation. You know the drill.