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Paul George explains why he decided not to meet with the Lakers as a free agent

Paul George always wanted to be a Laker, and this summer was supposed to be his chance to finally make that happen.

The Palmdale native was drafted by Indiana in 2010 and was a four-time All-Star with the Pacers. Last summer, George requested a trade to the Lakers, saying that he planned on opting out of his contract and joining his hometown team in 2018 anyway.

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Instead, the Pacers traded him to the Oklahoma City Thunder. No matter, really — after all, George could still opt out of his contract after the season and sign with the Lakers then.

But that’s not what happened. After an All-Star season that ended with a first-round playoff exit, George did opt out of his contract with Oklahoma City, but he didn’t sign with the Lakers. In fact, he didn’t even take a meeting with team president Magic Johnson and company.

George ended up signing a four-year, $137-million deal to remain with the Thunder. He announced his intention to do so at a party hosted by teammate Russell Westbrook on June 30, the day before the NBA’s free agency period began.

Speaking after USA Basketball's minicamp practice Thursday in Las Vegas, George said "it was absolutely tempting" to at least meet with the Lakers as a free agent.

He told USA Today: "The reason why I didn’t [take a meeting with the Lakers] is that coming down to free agency ... I felt really good where I was at. I felt I was in a good place with Oklahoma. I wanted to come back to L.A. That story was true. The narrative on that was true.

"That's where my heart was. But this year, being in Oklahoma, I felt really good about the situation, I felt really good going forward, and I didn’t want to waste nobody’s time and take a meeting .... I felt great where we were at, so I decided to do it early, to get it over with, and start to build."

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