After suffering a disappointing first-round playoff exit at the hands of the Utah Jazz, the Oklahoma City Thunder have now switched their attention to their number one offseason priority; re-signing Paul George.
The small forward will be highly sought-after when he hits free agency this summer but the Thunder are keen to do whatever it takes to tie him down to a long-term deal.
Their biggest competition will be the Los Angeles Lakers who have created two max contract slots and are expected to aggressively pursue the veteran.
George also stated that he has a desire to play for his hometown team and that feeling is definitely mutual as the Lakers hope to compete again by acquiring a marquee name.
But the 28-year-old recently admitted that he "would love to remain a Thunder" and would be keeping in contact with general manager Sam Presti and teammate Russell Westbrook throughout the process.
During his exit interview for the season, Presti confirmed that he has had discussions with PG13 and described it as "encouraging".
The team will likely have to go further into the luxury tax if they're able to re-sign the five-time All-Star, but Presti says they're willing to spend whatever is necessary to keep him in Oklahoma City.
“The opportunity to look into that and have that dialogue has really encouraged us,” said Presti, per Yahoo Sports.
“It’s made us feel good about where he is in his mind about the Thunder, where he is with his approach to things, and we’re looking forward to the opportunity in July to have a more official conversation.”
Rumours surfaced earlier this week claiming that George had decided not to return to OKC but their GM is only willing to go by what he's heard from the player himself.
"I talked to P.G. I would say why don't we listen to Paul. He has a lot of comments also," Presti said, per Fred Katz of The Norman Transcript.
"I'm not trying to dissuade anybody or say that what someone says someone told them is inaccurate. I'd just rather listen to the man himself."
If Thunder fans are to take George on what he's said, they should feel good about his chances of staying with the franchise as he's had nothing but positive things to say about them.
"There was a lot to be happy about: the fans, the city, the organisation," George said after the team's game six loss to the Jazz, per CBS Sports.
"Everything has been unbelievable. It's too soon. I'd love to remain a Thunder, but that's what this summer is for. We'll address that in the summer."
With two months to make a decision, a lot can change in that time and there's no doubt this will be one of the most intriguing free agencies in years.
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