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Paul George reportedly declines player option: What it means for the Cleveland Cavaliers

According to ESPN, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George has declined his player option and will become an unrestricted free agent.
Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

As the Cleveland Cavaliers await word on how LeBron James will handle his player option, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George has reportedly made a decision on his.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, George will not pick up the one-year option that remained on his contract with the Thunder. As a result, the 5-time All-Star will become an unrestricted free agent.

On Wednesday, Wojnarowski reported the Cavs had been exploring avenues to acquire George, although with him declining his player option, doing so just became tougher for Cleveland. Had George picked up the one year remaining on his contract in Oklahoma City, he could have then helped orchestrate a trade to the Cavs, just as Chris Paul did when he joined the Houston Rockets last offseason.

Now, Cleveland will have to clear enough cap space -- no small feat -- to sign George, who will likely command a max contract on the free agent market.

A year ago, the Cavs had reportedly agreed to a three-way trade to acquire George, before his former team, the Indiana Pacers, pulled out of the deal. The 6-foot-9 forward was then traded to the Thunder for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.

Appearing in 79 games last season, George averaged 21.9 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.0 rebounds. While the possibility remains that he could now sign a max contract with the Thunder, he has also been linked to his hometown team, the Los Angeles Lakers.

ESPN reported on Wednesday that James -- who has also been linked to the Lakers -- would be hesitant to take his talents to Los Angeles without another star player doing so far.

With George declining his player option, one just became available.

For all the latest on James' free agency, follow our LeBron James 2018 free agency rumor tracker.

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