Will George try to fit in again?
On the left wing, Paul George took a pass from Russell Westbrook, and a Steven Adams screen awaited.
George slithered by Adams and into the paint, where the Thunder forward spun and sprung on Utah center Rudy Gobert, finishing strong with a layup at the rim.
The George Experiment hadn’t always worked wonders in Oklahoma City this season, but here it was at its peak. In the third quarter of the Thunder’s most memorable playoff win — a rally from 25 points down to beat the Jazz in Game 5 of a series OKC lost in six — here were Westbrook and George at their Batmanand-Robin best.
If George chooses to return to the Thunder, that third quarter against Utah is the vision.
He and Westbrook combined for 32 of OKC’s 37 points in that period and all 11 of its field goals. Westbrook touched the ball 105 times in that game, George 68. No other Thunder player had more than 45 touches. That was Adams, who in his 41 minutes set an eyepopping 16 screen assists, screens that led directly to baskets by the player for whom he screened.
Westbrook and Adams are locked up long term, ready to play cornerstone pieces in the Thunder offense.
The question is whether George will join them.
He can — and almost certainly will — opt out of the final year of his contract to become a free agent this summer.
And whether it’s fair or not, his decision will be seen in large part as a referendum on playing with Westbrook.
At times this season, it was hard to tell if George enjoyed it.
At other times, he looked like a perfect fit.
“There were some highs, there were some lows,” George said of learning to play with Westbrook, which he called “one of the biggest adjustments” following the trade that brought him to Oklahoma City from Indiana last summer.
Paul George, right, learned how better to play off Russell Westbrook in their one season together in Oklahoma City. George could choose to continue their on-court relationship this summer.