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Paul George’s bond with Russell Westbrook a major factor for his return to Thunder

Paul George, Russell Westbrook

Paul George could stay put this summer if no major shakeups take place in this approaching 2018 offseason.

The relationship between the soon-to-be free agent forward and franchise star Russell Westbrook has grown immensely over the course of one season together, giving his stay in Oklahoma City a much better chance to stand as a reality come July 1.

While many have suggested he would bolt for his hometown team Los Angeles Lakers, a place which he targeted last summer — his relationship with the reigning MVP could ameliorate many of those comforting factors, making Oklahoma City his new home away from home.

Per Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

“Paul George has become really close to Russell Westbrook and I think that’s a relationship that you can’t quantify. I think that means a lot for the Thunder franchise. They might be bonding better than Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook did during Kevin Durant’s free agency. They’re spending a lot of time just, you know, doing what friends do. That could go a long way for Oklahoma City as it goes into July 1.”

Keeping George would be a major step for the Thunder to remain in contention — given that the West is bound to get even more loaded this offseason — retaining the star power they acquired back in July.

George put up 21.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 2.0 steals per game in his first season with the Thunder, shooting a strong 40.1 percent from deep.