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NBA Free Agency: Paul George to return to OKC; Chris Paul to re-sign with Rockets

SENIOR ANALYST
News
266   //    01 Jul 2018, 10:41 IST

Oklahoma City Thunder v Houston Rockets
George guarding Paul during a regular season game last season

What's the story?

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski has reported today that Paul George has committed to sign a deal with the Thunder. The deal is reportedly for 4 years, $137 million. Attending a party with Russell Westbrook, PG-13 took to the stage to say "I'm here to stay. We can bring it home."

In other news, Chris Paul has reportedly reached an agreement with the Rockets to sign a 4-year, $160 million max deal to see his career through to his age 37 season.

In case you didn't know

Paul George was scheduled to announce his decision via a 3-part televised Sportscenter segment, much like Chris Paul did last year.

2 parts of the series were released on 27th and 29th June respectively on ESPN's YouTube page. In the wake of this news, expect the third part to come out soon enough.

The heart of the matter

Last summer, it was widely reported that Paul George was interested in signing with the Lakers when free agency hit this year. He informed the Pacers' front office about his intent to do so, allowing them to shop him in trades.

The Lakers were unable to put any sort of decent package together. The Thunder stepped in to include Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis in a package deal, and they were able to strike a deal with the Pacers' front office. Ever since, Paul George has had nothing but positive things to say abut the franchise, and he was quite happy with the support he got from the Brodie through the season.

Chris Paul, meanwhile, was traded in exchange for 8 players by the Clippers last summer after he opted into the final year of his 5-year, $107-million deal with them. The Rockets came within one game of the NBA Finals with him this season, before injury ruled him out of the last 2 games of the Western Conference Finals.

What's next?

The Rockets will look to keep their current core together, which means that Clint Capela is in for a big payday. The Swiss center dominated Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns during the playoffs, in addition to finishing among the top 5 shotblockers in the league.

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The Thunder, meanwhile, have Jerami Grant's free agency looming. Grant was an important member of their small-ball lineups last season, and they would do well to re-sign him.

Author's take

While Paul George was widely tipped by a number of observers with a move to the Los Angeles Lakers, the second part of his Sportscenter documentary series saw him in talks with Dwyane Wade about how winning a championship is the thing that matters most to him. Consequentially, signing with the Thunder was not unexpected in this light, although Magic Johnson's confident statement that he would step down by next summer if he isn't able to attract free agents to Lakertown were an indication that he could, perhaps, have a trick or two up his sleeve right this summer.

CP3's decision, on the other hand, comes as no surprise. He was a perfect fit under Mike D'Antoni's offensive system, and he added to the Rockets' defensive robustness while taking a lot of playmaking load off Harden's shoulders. They worked well with their minutes being staggered, as well as when both of them shared the court together, so there were no basketball reasons for him to consider a departure.

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SENIOR ANALYST
Started as an Arsenal fan at the age of 6. Became a Ronaldo and a Real Madrid fan after the 2002 World Cup. Bandwagon Celtics fan this season, though I've watched the NBA with increasing frequency over the past 14 years or so. Played both games with my high school team at some of the highest levels there are in India. Played against East Bengal u-17s in college. A member of Mercurial FC, 1st division Amateur League team in Bangalore.
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