Paul George on Thunder, Free Agency: 'I'm Happy with This Group'

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistFebruary 8, 2018

Oklahoma City Thunder's Paul George celebrates after making a 3-point basket against the Golden State Warriors during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George, who has a player option on his contract for the 2018-19 season and can become a free agent this offseason, is apparently happy where he's playing.

"Well, I mean I'm happy here," George said, per Sam Amick of USA Today.

He continued:

"I'm happy here. I'm happy with this group. At the end of the season, it's still on my decision on what I need to do for my family. That has nothing to do with my happiness here though. I've been really happy. It's a great organization to be a part of, but again, you know, I don't want people looking at this and (saying) like, 'Hey, because he said it's his happiness at the end of the day (that he’s definitely re-signing).’

I don't know if whether I'm going to LA, or what I'm going to do this offseason. But I can say I am happy about being here. I'm happy with playing with Russ, happy with playing with Melo, and this organization. This front office has shown what they can do to go get pieces and how active they are about winning.”

Amick noted the Los Angeles Lakers are "widely seen as the No. 1 threat for his services" when it comes to another team signing him away from the Thunder this offseason. George is from the Los Angeles area and openly mentioned the possibility of going there to Amick.

However, this isn't the first time he has discussed his fondness of playing for the Thunder.

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He called his relationship with teammates Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony a "brotherhood" in an interview with ESPN's Rachel Nichols and deemed it "awesome" that Westbrook was so upset George was left off the initial All-Star teams in a January interview with Nichols, via Royce Young of

"Russ is the reason why this decision is becoming even more easier to make, is the character Russ [has]," George continued, via Young. "A stand-up guy, and he has his teammate's back."

He will undoubtedly be one of the top prizes on the market if and when he becomes a free agent as a three-time member of an All-NBA team and three-time All-Defensive selection.

George is averaging 22.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.2 steals per game and is thriving in his first season with the Thunder even if he isn't the No. 1 option like he was for much of his tenure with the Indiana Pacers.

He spearheaded Oklahoma City's Tuesday win over the Golden State Warriors with 38 points and six steals while chasing around sharpshooter Klay Thompson for extended stretches in a demonstration of just how dangerous a two-way force he can be on a nightly basis.

George is just 27 years old and could serve as a much-needed cornerstone for the Lakers as they build with a young core and attempt to snap a playoff-less streak that dates back to the 2012-13 season. He could also remain in Oklahoma City and compete with the upper-echelon teams in the league alongside Westbrook for years to come.

Even if he does ultimately leave, it is clear George has enjoyed his time with the Thunder to this point.