Report: Sixers target Paul George informs Oklahoma City he'll become a free agent

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Paul George knocks the ball away from the Sixers’ Dario Saric during a December 2017 game. The Sixers are reportedly targeting George, who will become a free agent.

One of the 76ers’ free-agent targets has informed his current team that he intends to become an unrestricted free agent.

ESPN is reporting that Paul George told the Oklahoma City Thunder he will opt out his $20.7 million salary for the 2018-19 season. The small forward has until 11:59 p.m. Friday to formerly decline the final year of his contract.

The Sixers are interested in pursuing the five-time NBA all-star to play alongside Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, according to sources.

His opting out doesn’t mean that George ruled out playing for the Thunder. He’s considering a return to Oklahoma City as a free agent, according to reports. He would be eligible to make more money under that scenario.

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However, he is also expected to give strong consideration to his hometown Los Angeles Lakers.

George is eligible to sign a five-year contract worth $176 million with the Thunder this summer. However, he could opt to sign a “one-and-one deal.” That’s where he would sign a one-year contract for the 2018-19 season with a player option for the 2019-20 season. That would enable him to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

The 6-foot-8, 220-pounder averaged 21.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists and a career-best 2.0 steals this past season with the Thunder. Oklahoma City acquired him last summer via trade from the Indiana Pacers.

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George averaged 18.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.7 steals during his seven seasons in Indiana. In addition to being a five-time all-star, he’s a four-time all-NBA third-teamer. George also garnered all-defensive first-team honors in 2014.

LeBron James, another Sixers free-agent target, is expected to opt out of the final year of his Cleveland Cavaliers deal by 11:59 p.m. Friday.

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