With the start of NBA free agency about two weeks away, there’s a growing sense around the Association that pending free agent Paul George will return to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Long considered a target of his hometown Los Angeles Lakers, George’s possible return to Oklahoma City could have wide-ranging ramifications around the Association. That includes Los Angeles’ imminent pursuit of LeBron James.

Now, according to this report from Marc Stein of The New York Times, it’s increasingly likely that will come to fruition. In fact, contract numbers are being thrown out in leaks from one of the two sides. According to Stein, this includes George signing a two-year, $63 million deal with the Thunder that includes an opt-out clause next summer.

“But it has reached the point that potential contract scenarios are starting to circulate,” Stein reported. “More than one rival team has suggested to me that they expect George to strongly consider a two-year deal with the Thunder at $30.3 million next season and $32.7 million in 2019-20 that includes a player option to return to free agency next summer.”

Financially speaking, this would certainly make a lot of sense for George. First off, Oklahoma City can offer him more than any other team. Secondly, a five-year deal from his current squad would net George “just” $176 million. He can earn a whole lot more in free agency next summer.

If George were to return to the Thunder, it would be a major coup for reigning NBA MVP Russell Westbrook and Co. But make no mistake about it: Oklahoma City still isn’t in position to contend out west. Retaining George would simply be the first step in what has to be considered a lengthy roster overhaul this summer.

George, 28, averaged 21.9 points and 5.7 rebounds while shooting at a 43 percent clip from the field for Oklahoma City last season. Despite some struggles, he’ll receive a ton of interest as a max-contract player once the calendar hits July.

Vincent Frank
Editor here at Sportsnaut. Contributor at Forbes. Previous bylines include Bleacher Report, Yahoo!, SB Nation. Heard on ESPN Radio and NBC Sports Radio. Northern California native living it up in Las Vegas. The Keto lifestyle. Traveler. Reader. TV watcher. Dog daddy. Sam Malone = greatest TV character ever. "Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary," John Keating.