Paul George says he would have joined the Lakers if Pacers didn't trade him
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George says that he would be in a Los Angeles Lakers or Clippers uniform if the Indiana Pacers did not trade him in the summer of 2017.
In a story by SI's Rob Mahoney, George stated his desire to head back to California and play close to his hometown of Palmdale, Calif.
“I wanted to go back home,” George said. “If that didn’t work. I absolutely wouldn’t have minded playing for the Clippers.”
Before the trade, George let the Pacers know that he had no intention of signing a long-term deal with Indiana. That prompted the team trade George in July 2017. Oklahoma City received George in the deal while Indiana got guard Victor Oladipo and forward Domantas Sabonis.
The five-time All-Star was thought to be headed to Los Angeles this past summer, but he never met with the organziation. He later said the Lakers were "pissed" at him for not taking a meeting with them.
"Going toward the summer and going toward free agency, I kind of had my mind made up talking with the team, talking with Russ and talking with the front-office," George said. "I kind of felt good where we were at. Last [season], I didn't get a chance to start with this team fresh. I got traded late. So, I picked up things late with the team. I wanted to get to it right away this time and start creating early."
George admitted he was eyeing the Lakers in free agency prior to the 2017-18 season in an interview with ESPN's The Undefeated,
"It was 50-50 on deciding whether I wanted to come back home or if it was smarter to be in the situation I am in now," George said. "But it wasn't overstated. I wanted to play in L.A. That is where I wanted to go. Had that trade never went down, had I played one more year in Indy, I would have been in a Lakers uniform."
George averaged 21.9 points and 5.7 rebounds last season and scored 27 points in a season-opening loss to the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night.