Will George try to fit in again?

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - SPORTS -

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.

Brett Daw­son bdaw­son@ oklahoman.com


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