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Three quick takeaways from Paul George’s exit interview

The Thunder held exit interviews Thursday, after losing a first-round NBA playoff series with the Trail Blazers in five games. Here are three quick takeaways from Paul George’s exit interview :

George hinted that he could have surgery in the offseason. George declined to comment on the specifics of his right shoulder injury or when he was injured, but he did say he was dealing with it long before he had to sit out for three games at the end of February and beginning of March for right shoulder soreness. George said he wasn’t sure if he would be ready for preseason, but he wanted to “clean up what needs to be cleaned up,” so that it wouldn’t become a reoccurring problem.

George’s injury effectively ended his MVP candidacy, but he focused more on the effect on the team.

“I think it came at a terrible time, especially the team was rolling,” George said. “We was playing good. I was holding up pretty, pretty, pretty good. I just thought it came at the wrong time, honestly. But again, I've never made no excuses on it. I was dealing with it for a long time throughout the season. It just got worse and worse as it went on. But it is what it is. Again, I'll say it again, injuries is part of the game.”

Other than the Thunder’s five-game winning streak to close the  regular season, George’s injury coincided with the Thunder’s post- All-Star break decline. He said he wasn’t expecting to exit the playoffs in the first round.

“Honestly, I'm still trying to wrap my head around that,” George said, “on what's the next step, the next phase for this group going forward. So you know, that's something I think we're all trying to work on internally, figure out like what can we do, because this is a team that can go far.”

George thinks Russell Westbrook is “just as normal as everyone else.”

“If anybody knows Russ on a personal level, you know that he's as real as it gets,” George said in response to a question about external criticism of Westbrook. “He's 100 percent. He's as pure as a person that you can find. If you're watching him from afar, you might mistake that for him being a certain type of way.”

George laughed and sat back in his chair when asked if he ever cringes at the way Westbrook handles the media. In the playoffs, Westbrook’s insistence on answering each of Oklahoman columnist Berry Tramel’s questions with “next question,” until Game 4 sparked national attention.

“I mean, it's a tough position to be in because I know being around him,” George said, “like I know where it's coming from. Like it just doesn't come off the right way. But I know where it's coming from. You know, he's a guy of principles. Everything is does is off principles.”

Related Photos
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George, left, and forward Jerami Grant walk off the court after losing to the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 5 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Tuesday, April 23, 2019, in Portland, Ore. The Trail Blazers won 118-115. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George, left, and forward Jerami Grant walk off the court after losing to the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 5 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Tuesday, April 23, 2019, in Portland, Ore. The Trail Blazers won 118-115. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-a61f82fe3f131658e22a4d03f5a744d0.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George, left, and forward Jerami Grant walk off the court after losing to the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 5 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Tuesday, April 23, 2019, in Portland, Ore. The Trail Blazers won 118-115. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)" title="Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George, left, and forward Jerami Grant walk off the court after losing to the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 5 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Tuesday, April 23, 2019, in Portland, Ore. The Trail Blazers won 118-115. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)"><figcaption>Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George, left, and forward Jerami Grant walk off the court after losing to the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 5 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Tuesday, April 23, 2019, in Portland, Ore. The Trail Blazers won 118-115. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)</figcaption></figure>
Maddie Lee

Maddie Lee followed an NBA team from Seattle to Oklahoma City, she just took a 10-year detour in between. Lee joined the Oklahoman in October 2018 as a Thunder beat writer, fresh off a stint in Oxford, Miss., where she covered Ole Miss for the... Read more ›

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