Paul George: Russell Westbrook making free agent decision easier

The Oklahoma City Thunder are prepared for an uncertain offseason, but thanks to Russell Westbrook — both on and off the court — the franchise is moving closer to re-signing Paul George.

ESPN’s Royce Young notes the small forward said Westbrook’s public defense of George’s All-Star snub was “awesome” and helps OKC’s chances of retaining him.

“Russ is the reason why this decision is becoming even more easier to make, is the character Russ [has]. A stand-up guy, and he has his teammate’s back.”

George added Westbrook — last season’s Most Valuable Player — should be an All-Star starter and called the point guard “my guy forever” because Westbrook had his back.

And the Thunder certainly hope it’s not just talk.

Following the current season, George is expected to decline his player option and become an unrestricted free agent. Rumors have connected the four-time All-Star with the Los Angeles Lakers, since he grew up in California and attended USC.

However, if OKC can re-sign George, he’ll give the roster a two-superstar core for at least four seasons. In his first year with the Thunder, he’s averaged 20.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.1 steals.

Adding George on a long-term deal alongside Westbrook’s massive contract will be expensive, but it’s a cap-space dilemma worth having.