NBA Free Agency is almost upon us. After much speculation, we will finally get to learn the destination of star players like LeBron James, Paul George, and Kawhi Leonard. Rumors have been swirling and spinning around like slotmachines the past several weeks. One thing you can bet on is that we’re in for some big surprises as all of the drama comes to a head and decisions are finally able to be made.
Paul George to Opt out of Contract
After a lot of speculation of either a potential return to OKC or a move to LA, now George is on the free market to decide once and for all. According to ESPN, George will decline his player option to remain in Oklahoma City and head to free agency.
Oklahoma City Thunder star Paul George has informed franchise officials that he will not be opting in for the final year of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent, league sources told ESPN.
George has an 11:59 PM ET Friday deadline to formally decline to opt in.
George, who will decline a $20.7 million salary for the 2018-19 season, remains seriously interested in returning to the Thunder in free agency, league sources said. The Los Angeles Lakers will receive serious consideration too, sources said.
In the report, Woj also states the Rockets and 76ers will be interested in pursuing George along with Los Angeles being a serious contender and Oklahoma City remaining in play for the return of George. Woj also states George can take a five year $176 million deal but would likely want a shorter deal to take more control over his future. It’s the same contract philosophy LeBron James and Kevin Durant have been using with their respective teams.
Kawhi Meets with Pop Again
As the trade talks heat up for the Spurs, Gregg Popovich looks to be doing some last minute pleads to Kawhi Leonard to repair the relationship with the franchise and players. Stephen A Smith of ESPN reported that Kawhi was no longer ‘having fun’ in the business oriented style of basketball the Spurs carry themselves as.
Stephen A also noted that Kawhi projected his displeasure over the players calling him out publicly while rehabbing his calf during the season in this meeting again. Kawhi wants to return home to Los Angeles, whether it’s the Lakers or Clippers he is fine with both according to Stephen A.
I cannot imagine Popovich or R.C. Buford completely fine with moving Kawhi. These meetings are likely about damage control to further comfort in returning to San Antonio. The Spurs currently have all of the leverage since they do not have to trade him and can deal him wherever they like.
However, Leonard has noted he will sign with an LA team in the 2019 free agency anyway, decreasing his trade value but at the same time forcing the Spurs to act if they want any pieces in return for losing Leonard.
Magic Looking to Make a Deal?
A lot of times during the NBA offseason, blockbuster trades can require more than two partners to get done for various reasons. Like the Dwight Howard trade in 2012 for instance, which took four teams to complete which ended up being a disaster for Los Angeles. Now, the Lakers could be looking for a third partner to acquire Kawhi Leonard, and that might be the Orlando Magic.
Orlando currently has no point guard with a roster that is constructed to be big man oriented on offense with Isaac and Mo Bamba now coming into the fold. The small market might be just what Lonzo Ball needs, as he is still wrapped up in drama when he needs to be focusing on fixing glaring weaknesses.
In Orlando, Lonzo, Gordon, Isaac and Bamba would be a solid lineup to build off of for the foreseeable future. The biggest need for the Magic going forward with that group would be adding veteran leadership and adding three point shooting.