Paul George: I Wanted to Join Lakers Last Year, But They Didn't Trade for Me

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJuly 4, 2018

SACRAMENTO, CA - FEBRUARY 22: Russell Westbrook #0 and Paul George #13 of the Oklahoma City Thunder face the Sacramento Kings on February 22, 2018 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California. 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 Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
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The Los Angeles Lakers lost out on their shot to sign Paul George when they failed to work out a trade with the Indiana Pacers for the five-time All-Star swingman last summer.

"I 100 percent appreciate Laker Nation for wanting me to come back home," George said during the ESPN series following him during free agency (h/t Warriors Outsiders' Drew Shiller). "I wanted to come here a year ago, prior to going to OKC. And unfortunately wasn't traded to the Lakers—Lakers didn't grab me."

George made the revelation to start the third episode of the series, adding his trade to the Oklahoma City Thunder "has been a beautiful thing for me."

George shocked many fans and experts when he agreed to a four-year, $137 million extension with the Thunder before he tested the free-agent waters, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

His decision was vindication for Thunder general manager Sam Presti, who acquired George last June in the hope that his spending a season in Oklahoma City would get him to commit beyond one year. That's exactly what wound up happening.

The parallels to Kawhi Leonard's present situation are too obvious to ignore.

Wojnarowski and ESPN's Ramona Shelburne reported in June that Leonard wants a trade away from the San Antonio Spurs, with the Lakers at the top of his wish list. Los Angeles could gamble and wait until Leonard can become a free agent next summer, or it could work out a trade with the Spurs now.

After watching George stay with the Thunder, the Lakers should feel a little more urgency to land Leonard this summer, even if it means losing one or two of their young stars.

Likewise, playoff contenders other than the Lakers may feel a bit more confident that Leonard won't just be a one-year rental. 

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