Paul George expected to bolt from OKC Thunder

Paul George will become a free agent in the summer

Anthony has an early-termination option in his contract which he could decline, allowing him to remain on the roster for the 2018-19 campaign.

"If you think about the last three years for our organization, and the last three years for him, it's been a little bit of a whipsaw in respect to just the team he inherited in 2016, the performance of that team being within a couple minutes of going to the Finals, then not being able to capitalize on that", Presti said.

Free agency begins in July, and the Thunder or any other National Basketball Association team can't hold talks with George about a contract until that time.

"I would say why don't we listen to Paul", Presti said. Even with a superstar trio in OKC, many were convinced that George was going to opt out of his deal after the season and come home to LA. He averaged only 16.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.3 (!) assists per game.

Despite a disappointing ending to the season as the Thunder were eliminated by the Jazz at the first hurdle, Presti believes the future for the Thunder will still be bright with key players like Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Steven Adams, who still have a lot left in their career. I felt strongly about the relationship.

Following Russell Westbrook's MVP winning 2016/2017 season, the Thunder sought to help him by adding more star power in the form of Anthony from the New York Knicks and George from the Indiana Pacers with the hopes of a deep playoff run. Melo struggled to adjust to his role as the third (and sometimes fourth) banana, and in his exit interview he critiqued the Thunder's strategy. I think he's being very candid and very honest.

"Today is the first time I've heard from anybody that I trust that George is gone", Russillo said. Johnson acknowledged he would try to follow National Basketball Association protocol by saying "hi" to George, "even though I'll be wink-winking like, 'You know what that means, right?'" he added. "Royce is fantastic and would know better than I would because he's there". The Thunder made the deal for George knowing it could potentially be a one-year rental, while also being a one-year free agency recruitment.

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