OKLAHOMA CITY — Paul George feels “a real brotherhood” with Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony, he told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols in a sit-down interview, which aired Sunday.
Talk of the Los Angeles Lakers has surrounded the five-time All-Star, who will become a free agent at the end of this season. The Lakers are not only George’s hometown team. He also requested to be traded there when he informed the Indiana Pacers he would not be re-signing come 2018 free agency.
George has, however, been complimentary of the Oklahoma City Thunder since the team traded for him over the summer.
“I obviously would’ve loved to go home. That was ideal when it was that time,” George told Nichols. “But now, being here and playing alongside Russ, playing alongside Melo, I feel a real brotherhood with those guys. If we’re here right now, then where can we be next year? Where can we be the year after that?”
The Thunder have progressed to 30-24 after a rocky 8-12 start to the season, though they have lost four consecutive games, bringing them to 1-4 since starting shooting guard Andre Roberson went down for the season with a ruptured left patellar tendon.
Still, Oklahoma City owns the NBA’s No. 5-ranked defense and No. 11-ranked offense, a massive improvement since the season’s viscous start. George and Anthony have found roles next to Westbrook in that time. And the Thunder actually own the league’s No. 3 offense in 26 games since Dec. 17. They’re 17-9 over that time.
The Lakers, even after beating the Thunder on Sunday, have struggled, and talk of them bringing in multiple max free agents this summer, while still certainly possible, is not as emphatic around the NBA as it was at the start of the year. Part of that is because people aren’t as pessimistic about the Thunder’s chances of re-signing their best two-way player.
“Of course, LA is home, so that’s always going to draw the attention. But we’ll see. I won’t rule anything out, but I’m definitely happy where I’m at,” George said to ESPN. “I like where we’re going, and I want to see how this unfolds.”