LeBron James will be the headlining free agent of the summer. That goes without saying.
But a strong free-agent class in 2018 could greatly alter the landscape of the NBA, though the likes of Kevin Durant and Chris Paul will likely stay put in Golden State and Houston respectively.
That might not be the case for Oklahoma City Thunder shooting guard Paul George, who will hit the market at the conclusion of what’s been an underwhelming season so far.
Despite the Thunder creating a “Big 3” of their own in George, Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony, Oklahoma City sits in seventh in the Western Conference and are nowhere near the same level as the Warriors or Rockets.
George has still been the same productive guard as always despite having to share the spotlight he never had to relinquish while with the Indiana Pacers. In 62 games, the 27-year-old is averaging 22.3 points per game while earning his fifth All-Star Game selection.
So who might be the favorites to sign George this offseason? Here are three possibilities:
Oklahoma City Thunder
Sure, things haven’t necessarily gone to plan, but George is playing in a small market with virtually no pressure considering Westbrook is the unquestioned face of the Thunder franchise.
There is still time this year to get it right and even if they sneak into the playoffs, a Cinderella run could be all the swaying George needs to stay in Oklahoma City.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers have been the longtime favorites to land George ever since a 2017 report by Adrian Wojnarowski revealed that the guard informed his then-current team, the Pacers, that he would leave them in 2018 and “preferably” sign with the Los Angeles.
George is a California native and made those comments after the Lakers looked as good as they do now, which isn’t saying much considering they’re poised to miss the playoffs for the fifth-straight year. But the young developing talents of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Julius Randle will make going home an even more appealing option.
While the process has been a steady build-up, the 76ers might just blow the doors off the Eastern Conference this offseason if they decide to go all out in free agency.
LeBron has been linked to the 76ers whether it be on billboards, bromance-caliber moments on the floor with Joel Embiid, or false reports of him looking at schools for his son in Philadelphia.
Regardless, the 76ers are poised to become a serious Finals threat should they pick up a big name in free agency.
If James (likely) doesn’t sign with Philadelphia, why not go for George? The Sixers are in desperate need of a scoring threat on the perimeter and adding George would put the entire league on notice.
Will it happen? Not likely. But the possibility of playing alongside Embiid, Ben Simmons is an attractive offer.