Thunder's George opts out of deal; where to next?

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Not surprisingly, Paul George is set to become a huge NBA free-agent prize. And one of the the league's biggest mysteries -- as no one knows where he'll go next.'

All that is known is George has informed the Oklahoma City Thunder he is opting out of the $20.7 million option in his contract and become an unrestricted free agent, free to sign with any team July 1, as reported by ESPN.

This means little in the big scheme and was entirely expected. George is said to strictly be interested in returning to the Thunder or joining the Los Angeles Lakers -- perhaps in that order.

The Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston Rockets and Philadelphia 76ers are also highly interested in George, though each are considered the longest of long shots.

One of the things working in the Thunder's favor is George formed a tight bond with point guard Russell Westbrook during their one season together. Westbrook wants George to return and George seems to appreciate that. But George's love of LA is also always seemingly pulling on him.

"Before his trade (to OKC from Indiana), George had told the Pacers that he planned to sign with the Lakers in free agency this summer," ESPN reported. "Nevertheless, Oklahoma City GM Sam Presti, coach Billy Donovan and Westbrook have made a strong case on a future with the Thunder and moved the franchise into contention with the Lakers."

George, 28, averaged 21.7 points and 5.7 rebounds in 79 regular-season games last season.