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OKC Thunder could have record luxury tax bill

03 July 2018, 10:13 | Anna Jefferson

Modal Trigger Le Bron James and Kawhi Leonard Getty Images

What Lakers will try to do now after Le Bron James coup

As a free agent, he can sign with any National Basketball Association team that has salary cap room.

George forced his way out of IN a year ago by telling the Pacers he planned to become a free agent this summer and sign with the Lakers. The forward had until Friday to decide whether to opt in, which would have paid him $20.7 million in 2018-19, the last season of a five-year, $91.6 million deal he signed as a member of the Indiana Pacers.

However George was traded to Oklahoma City previous year, where he developed a strong bond with Russell Westbrook. George averaged 21.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 3.3 assists in 79 games for the Thunder last season.

The general assumption was that George would be sitting down with the Lakers to plan out a future with the Los Angeles team, so his decision to stay locked down with the Thunder naturally came as a shock. George, from Palmdale, posted a photo of himself and Westbrook celebrating with cigars at the party. Paul George likely would not have re-signed with the Thunder if they were planning on keeping the same roster as last season, so a move like this could be imminent for OKC.

For the past year, George was presumed to be a lock to sign with the Lakers, who also were positioning themselves to chase after LeBron James. And players tend to go home: Paul Pierce played in LA toward the end of his career, Dwyane Wade briefly played in Chicago, Chauncey Billups had stints in Denver.




So, Sunday morning's decision to not only stay with the Thunder but also agree to a four-year max was a stunner for George.

It's rare to get a star of George's caliber, either through the draft or through free agency, for a franchise like Oklahoma City. Los Angeles will still be there, calling, winking, tugging at his heartstrings the way it clearly has for years. Any team with the ammo to trade for Leonard and pair him with another star-caliber player would become a powerhouse, assuming Kawhi gets healthy for the coming season. Those three alone will take up something like $100 million each and every season.

But he agreed quickly this time to a one-year, $24.1 million deal and will finally be part of the Mavs.

The biggest names on the free agent market are signed.



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