June 29, 2018 / 2:44 AM / 10 months ago

NBA notebook: George opts out, will become unrestricted free agent

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George has informed the team he will decline his $20.7 million player option for next season and become an unrestricted free agent, according to a report from ESPN.

Apr 27, 2018; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George (13) dribbles the ball against Utah Jazz forward Royce O'Neale (23) during the first half of game six of the first round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

George has until Friday’s 11:59 p.m. ET deadline to make his decision official.

The Thunder, whom George joined prior to last season via trade from the Indiana Pacers, have a serious chance at retaining George, while the Los Angeles Lakers, who are looking to add one or two marquee players in order to entice LeBron James to join them, will also be a favored destination for the Palmdale, Calif., native, according to ESPN.

George, 28, averaged 21.9 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 79 games with the Thunder last season. If George chooses to return to Oklahoma City he would be committing to a second season playing next to Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony. The Thunder went 48-34 last season, losing in the first round of the playoffs to the No. 5 seed Utah Jazz.

—New York Knicks president Steve Mills said the team has worked hard to improve its relationship with Kristaps Porzingis since the frustrated All-Star skipped his exit meeting with the team last April.

Porzingis, who missed the final 28 games of the year with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, was supposed to meet with Mills and then-team president Phil Jackson at the end of the season. However, he chose not to — which agent and brother Janis Porzingis called “an honest, well-thought decision” — reportedly due to a dispute with then-coach Jeff Hornacek and frustration over drama and dysfunction within the franchise.

“We’ve worked really hard in rebuilding the relationship with KP,” Mills said in an interview with ESPN’s The Stephen A. Smith Show. “For [general manager] Scott and me, it’s been with his brother. We had to make Janis, who is his agent and his brother, make him feel like he was part of our group and let him understand what we’re doing as a team, where we’re taking this thing.”

—Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry’s reign atop the NBA’s most popular jersey sales list continued through the playoffs, as he claimed the top spot based on overall sales on NBAStore.com from April through June, the league announced.

Curry’s jersey has been the top-seller through three NBA updates of sales this season.

Behind Curry and rounding out the top five are the Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James (No. 2), Boston Celtics’ Kyrie Irving (No. 3), Curry’s Warriors teammate Kevin Durant (No. 4) and the Philadelphia 76ers’ Ben Simmons (No. 5). Houston Rockets star and recently named MVP James Harden’s jersey ranked sixth.

—New York Knicks center Enes Kanter is close to locking in his player option for $18.6 million next season, according to a report from ESPN.

Kanter, who had hoped to sign a long-term deal this summer, has until 11:59 p.m. ET on Friday to accept the deal or enter free agency. He averaged 14.1 points and 11.0 rebounds per game last season and was one of the Knicks’ bright spots in an otherwise dismal 29-53 season.

Kanter was traded to the Knicks last summer in the deal that sent Carmelo Anthony to Oklahoma City. The 26-year-old has played for three teams in seven pro seasons and has a career scoring average of 11.7 points per game. Utah selected him with the third pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.

— Indiana Pacers forward Thaddeus Young has chosen to exercise his $13.7 million player option for next season and will remain with the team for the 2018-19 season, according to multiple reports.

“Thanks for all the love @Pacers fans and family,” Young tweeted. “Everyone keeps saying welcome back. I never left. I’m here. I promise to continue to give 110% for my brothers & family in blue & gold each day as I have done the past 2 years.”

Young, 30, averaged 11.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game last season, his second with the Pacers.

—Field Level Media

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