George to remain with Thunder - Basketball

As Paul George and Jerami Grant return Thunder face largest tax bill

George averaged 21.9 points per game and 5.7 rebounds last season for the Thunder who were knocked out in the first round of the National Basketball Association playoffs.

There had been much speculation leading up to the decision that George had been leaning toward re-signing with the Thunder.

Keeping Grant on a $9 million annual salary could cost the Thunder an additional $40 million in luxury tax. The 28 year old has agreed to a four-year contract worth $137 million. The hope in Oklahoma City is that this year, they'll mesh together and become a significant threat in the National Basketball Association.

There are few easy options for the Thunder to cut payroll. That doesn't necessarily mean he'll be leaving the Thunder per se, but it does make it seem like the Lakers are a more likely fit for him in the 2018-19 season and beyond. It was thought for a long time that George and fellow free agent star LeBron James could head to the Lakers together.

OKC has well over $100 million tied up to George, Westbrook, Steven Adams and Carmelo Anthony entering next season.

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The Clippers also will soon meet with guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who played for the Lakers last season, an executive said. He simply isn't the kind of player you give that kind of money to.

Are the Thunder contenders with George?

But the small forward has already informed the Thunder that he will opt out of his contract and become a free agent on July 1.

During the season, George spoke openly about how he'd always wanted to play for the Lakers, but also was keeping an open mind about the Thunder. Oklahoma City outscored opponents by 14.2 points per 100 possessions last season with its starters on the court, the second-best net rating among the 10 lineups that logged at least 500 minutes in 2017-18 according to NBA Advanced Stats.

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