Billy Donovan Thinks Paul George Is ‘Looking To Be Pushed’ By Someone

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Paul George is getting used to fishing in Oklahoma City, and the Thunder hope he’s getting used to playing there for a long time. Whether George wants to stick around after this season, though, is complcated.

Oklahoma City doubled down on its efforts to give Russell Westbrook some help when they traded for George at the NBA Draft and later acquired Carmelo Anthony shortly before the start of preseason. Making it all work in Oklahoma City will take time, of course, but the hope of many there is that if it works well enough George will consider re-signing there and playing out his days with Westbrook locked up long-term.

It’s impossible to get inside George’s head, but he hasn’t shied away from speaking about how he’s growing used to Oklahoma and what he wants to accomplish this season.

The Vertical’s Chris Mannix spoke to George, who said he’s eager to play with a higher level of talent that can help him win a title. George said that’s something he simply didn’t think was going to happen in Indiana.

“You need special talent to build championship teams,” George told Yahoo Sports. “It’s no secret. You feel more comfortable out there when you have guys who can play at the same level, who can play at a high level, play with high energy as well. I’m not going to be perfect every night. But to have a guy that can play at that same level that I can some nights, that I can benefit from, is a luxury.”

The full quote is pretty interesting: George felt like he was going nowhere in Indiana. And that goes for his level of play as well. He’s told Thunder coach Billy Donovan to push him to play at a higher level, something he didn’t necessarily feel like he could do with the Pacers.

“I think Paul is still trying to stretch himself as a player,” Donovan told The Vertical. “I think Paul is just looking to be pushed. The coaching staff, myself, are trying to push him in areas where he can get better. He had an incredible run [in Indiana]. But like any elite player, those guys are always trying to find ways to get better. That’s why they are who they are. As a coach you try to challenge them to help them get better and improve themselves.”

Kevin Durant would not exactly expect such things in OKC, but George seems optimistic that he will move in the right direction there. All of this will take time, though. It’s not easy to find the right chemistry and flow after you’ve been the focal point of a franchise for so long. But the Thunder aren’t the only team with big questions looming as they start their seasons with new pieces in different places. The Thunder, though, just might be the most fascinating team with George’s free agency looming.