Michael Wyke/Associated Press
Appearing on Chris Pfaff’s Short Story Long podcast (h/t theScore’s Chris Walder), George said the Lakers were “pissed” they didn’t get a chance to speak with him before he re-signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“L.A. was pissed at me,” he said. “I didn’t give Magic [Johnson] a [meeting], which I understand. But at that point, I knew I wanted to give it another shot. I didn’t want to prolong it and waste people’s time.”
The Lakers seemed like a prime destination for George when he became a free agent after the 2017-18 season. He was born in Los Angeles County and played college basketball at Fresno State.
Before being traded by the Indiana Pacers to the Thunder in July 2017, George was connected to his hometown team. In the final episode of his ESPN documentary series My Journey, the five-time All-Star mentioned he wanted to play for the Lakers prior to the deal.
“I 100 percent appreciate Laker Nation for wanting me to come back home, wanting me to play in front of them,” George said (via The Oklahoman’s Brett Dawson). “I wanted to come here a year ago, prior to going to OKC. Unfortunately, wasn’t traded to the Lakers. Lakers didn’t grab me. I was traded to Oklahoma, and that has been a beautiful thing for me.”
Regarding his decision to remain in Oklahoma City, George told Pfaff he “just felt comfortable” during his first season with the team.
“Coming down to free agency, I didn’t want to waste any time,” he said. “I wanted to give it another shot. I gave them one year. We played well against the best teams. I wanted to give it a real shot.”
The Lakers did come out of free agency with LeBron James, so their anger should be somewhat muted by landing the biggest prize avaiable.
George, meanwhile, received a four-year, $137 million deal to stay with the Thunder. The 28-year-old averaged 21.9 points and 5.7 rebounds per game last season to help Oklahoma City earn the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference playoffs. They were eliminated in the first round by the Utah Jazz.