Paul George Says It's Not 'Championship or Bust' Regarding OKC Future

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistJanuary 4, 2018

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - DECEMBER 23: Paul George #13 of the Oklahoma City Thunder looks on in the first half against the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena on December 23, 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images)
Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images

Paul George doesn't need to join a championship squad in free agency, as long as the team is heading in the right direction.

The pending free agent said he would consider staying with the Oklahoma City Thunder after this year, but the squad has to have a foundation, per ESPN:

"I'm very conscious that we're only together for a year so far, and we continue to go in an upward trend. It's best to stick with what we have and work on building. So, I wouldn't say it's championship or bust, or championship and I'm out. It's all about building. If I like where we're building or the level that we're going at, it would be stupid to walk away from that."

This is in response to Russell Westbrook saying a title would keep George on the team.

"Sales pitch is gonna be when we win a championship," the guard told reporters Wednesday. "Beat that pitch."

George is in his first year with the Thunder after coming over in a trade from the Indiana Pacers during the summer. While he was a four-time All-Star in Indiana, he effectively forced his way out by saying he wouldn't sign with the team after becoming a free agent in 2018, per Adrian Wojnarowski, then with The Vertical.

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While there is plenty of speculation he will return to his hometown to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers, there is the possibility he could stay with Oklahoma City and build a contender alongside Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony.

When discussing his free-agent options a year ago, he noted his interest in joining a contender.

"I always want to be part of a team that has a chance to win it (all)," George said in February, per Nat Newell of the Indianapolis Star. "That's important. Say what you want; I want to compete for something."

The Thunder got off to a slow start to the season but are now 20-17 on the season, good enough for fifth place in the Western Conference. Considering the Lakers are dead last in the West at 11-25, his current team could be an appealing option, even without winning a championship this year.