Part Three of Paul George's Three-Part ESPN Free Agency Series

04 July, 2018, 08:05 | Author: Judy Cobb
  • LeBron returns to LA to plot next move as free agency nears

About 80 percent of the National Basketball Association is projected to be above next season's salary cap, according to RealGM, which means there aren't many realistic competitors for potentially high-priced free agents like LeBron James and DeMarcus Cousins. This time, it took about 20 hours. It is now being reported that Paul George will stick around as well.

Meanwhile, Kevin Durant is staying put for now. The terms were confirmed by a person familiar with the situation who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal can not become official until the league's offseason moratorium ends this week.

George became a free agent on Friday after opting out of the final year of his contract. Who knows? But for George, teaming up with Westbrook makes flawless sense.

The latest in free agency news is that Paul George won't be leaving behind the Oklahoma City Thunder squad this year.

Indeed, what we saw from Leonard in the past year, as his mysterious quad injury torpedoed his season and dragged the Spurs organization down with it, was a player who came off as stubborn and hard-headed. Philadelphia would instantly vault from conference contender to favorite with James, who could make a strong run at his ninth straight Finals in Year One.

Thus, in the event of such a trade, here are some teams that might be willing to take on his salary if the Thunder were to throw in a young player or some draft picks. Teams who might have been scared away by the purple and gold giant waiting in SoCal might find some inspiration in Oklahoma City keeping PG-13. More big moves in the West are possible, especially with DeMarcus Cousins still available in free agency and a candidate to return to New Orleans.

For the Thunder, the win was that their risk paid off.

Still, the Thunder gambled that they could trade for George and, with a full year to push the organization's culture on him, would be able to persuade him to give up his SoCal dreams and stay in OKC beyond the one season. The relationship with Sam (Presti).

In Houston, Paul has told Rockets fans the same thing.

That also lent to some optimism for the Cleveland Cavaliers, whose general manager Koby Altman reportedly spoke with James and his agent Rich Paul minutes after free agency officially opened. Cleveland has deep salary-cap issues - partially caused by James' failure to commit long-term - and the Cavs now lack enough talent to unseat the champion Golden State Warriors.

George averaged 21.9 points on 43.0 percent shooting from the field and 40.1 percent shooting from the three-point line, adding 5.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.0 steals per game.

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