At the moment, the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Lakers are on very different trajectories. LeBron is poised to miss the playoffs for the first time since his sophomore season, while OKC is battling for prime postseason position in the West and boast one of the top MVP candidates in Paul George.
Just two summers ago, it seemed like a forgone conclusion that George would be in Los Angeles by now, one way or the other. That was his preferred destination when he requested a trade from the Pacers, and after a rocky first season with the Thunder, the smart money was on him heading there in free agency last summer.
But during his time in Oklahoma, George forged a bond with both the city and his teammates, despite their on-court struggles, and after nearly two seasons, it looks like things are starting to fall in place. George has faced ongoing questions about that decision, and it’s clear he feels generally content with how things have played out and how he’s been perceived from the outside.
“Oklahoma City is where I feel comfortable at,” George says. “L.A. can hate me or love me. The decision was ultimately mine.”
“I think my words kind of threw people off because they read one sentence, and it’s, ‘Oh, he’s going to L.A.,'” George says. “I wanted to go to L.A. I said that, and I voiced that ever since the Pacers were just about to trade me. But, it didn’t happen. I went somewhere else. I loved the situation. I was wowed by the situation. That’s where I feel comfortable at.”
Though the Thunder have positioned themselves as one of the top contenders in the West, it remains to be seen whether they can actually pose a legitimate challenge to the Warriors’ reign, especially with teams like the Rockets surging once again.
But with Kawhi Leonard in a similar situation in Toronto and the Anthony Davis trade fizzling out last month, the Lakers have been left wondering what, if any, superstars will be left to join LeBron and try to bring one of the league’s most historic franchises back to its former glory.