The specter of Paul George leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder after a season and signing with the Los Angeles Lakers remains a strong possibility, and the four-time All-Star did little Tuesday to calm the speculation.
Speaking to reporters, George said he doesn't regret pursuing a trade to the Lakers to such an extent the NBA fined the team $500,000 for tampering. The Palmdale, California, native said he "would have loved to go back home and play for my city," per the Oklahoman's Erik Horne:
Short of emphatically declaring he intends to sign with the Lakers, it's hard to see how George's comments could be any worse for the Thunder.
After starting slowly out of the gates, Oklahoma City has won eight of their last 11 games.
Just as head coach Billy Donovan is getting things on track, George's future will again become a dominant topic of conversation around the team.
Oklahoma City already faced seemingly long odds of re-signing George in the offseason, and general manager Sam Presti knew that when he acquired him from the Indiana Pacers. The hope was that Russell Westbrook's five-year, $205 million extension, as well as a deep playoff run, would entice George to stay.
Based on what he said Tuesday, however, George's interest in signing with the Lakers hasn't exactly waned.
By openly discussing a hypothetical move to Los Angeles, George may have also diminished the Thunder's leverage in a potential trade if Presti wanted to go that route. Opposing general managers almost certainly won't want to give up much for George if they believe he's going to sign with the Lakers regardless of what happens this season.