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NBA News: Paul George Opts to Become a Free Agent

The Oklahoma City Thunder forward will test a crowded market.

NBA: Playoffs-Oklahoma City Thunder at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

NBA Free Agency is getting more crowded as Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star forward Paul George declines the final year of his contract, leaving behind $20.7 million guaranteed to test the open market. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports that George informed the Thunder of his decision in advance of a Friday deadline.

George joins two other high-profile forwards rumored to be available this summer either via free agency or trade, LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs. The Los Angeles Lakers have been linked with all three players, but Wojnarowski asserts that George opting for free agency doesn’t automatically mean he’ll be leaving Oklahoma City.

Before his trade [to the Thunder], George had told the Pacers that he planned to sign with the Lakers in free agency this summer. Nevertheless, Oklahoma City GM Sam Presti, coach Billy Donovan and Westbrook have made a strong case on a future with the Thunder and moved the franchise into contention with the Lakers.

Wojnarowski also indicates that the contract may not be long-term, an advantage to George.

George could do a “one-plus-one” contract and return to free agency next summer. George will reach 10 years of service in 2020, making him eligible to sign a four-year, $169 million maximum contract with a team with cap space.

George averaged 21.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 3.3 assists in 36.6 minutes per game last season with the Thunder. The 6’9 small forward is 28 years old.