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Eastern Conference Contender Lines Up for Paul George Trade

Los Angeles Clippers star Paul George sizes up New York Knicks forward Julius Randle

With nine-time All-Star Paul George miffed by the Los Angeles Clippers’ offers during contract negotiations, the swingman is exploring his options. Thus far, George has been strongly linked to the Philadelphia 76ers and Orlando Magic. Both teams could and would sign him to a max contract in free agency.

A potential commitment to the Sixers seems less likely now, given George’s cryptic comments about front office executives’ reputations. Indeed, it’s been implied that George was making reference to Sixers president Daryl Morey, whose integrity has been put into doubt. However, the Magic may be a legitimate landing spot. That is, if George’s isn’t just blowing smoke when he lauds franchise star Paolo Banchero.

Knicks Line Up for Paul George Trade

If George picks up his player option for next season in order to facilitate a move to another team, “keep the (New York) Knicks on the list as a potential trade suitor,” per NBA insider Marc Stein.

In a hypothetical trade scenario, the Knicks could offer free agent OG Anunoby in a sign-and-trade.

To be fair, it would be a bit of an overpay for Anunoby due to his injury history. Furthermore, despite his desire for a larger offensive role, he’s never been a go-to scorer. However, the deal would allow the Clippers to maintain their defensive identity. With a career-high of 17.1 points per game, there’s also reason to believe Anunoby can average 20+ points per game if given the opportunity

Julius Randle to the Knicks?

The chance that the Knicks would be willing to part ways with Julius Randle has to be explored as well. With Jalen Brunson leapfrogging Randle as the No. 1 option, New York has been building around the former second-round pick. In doing so, Randle’s future with the team is clouded. If the Knicks can flip him for a player of George’s caliber, they have little reason not to.

This may lead to a desirable outcome for Los Angeles.

Randle’s defensive upside has always been undermined by his inconsistent effort. However, Clippers head coach Ty Lue knows how to light a fire under his players. Even if he doesn’t motivate Randle to put his best foot forward defensively, Randle’s an upper echelon scorer, playmaker, and rebounder. Furthermore, if Norman Powell is promoted in George’s place, the perimeter defense won’t take a significant hit. Instead, the frontcourt would just be adding their best power forward since Blake Griffin.

Paul George to the Warriors?

Recently, George’s name was floated as a target for the Golden State Warriors. The rumors seem to have begun all the way back in mid-February, with The Athletic’s Sam Amick reporting that the Warriors would “explore” a path to acquiring George. Yet, there doesn’t appear to be a legal framework for a trade between the Warriors and Clippers.

Both Golden State and L.A. are above the second tax apron. As a result, they can only take back 100 percent of their salary in a trade. Aside from face of the franchise Stephen Curry, the Warriors don’t have any players whose salary matches the $48.8 million George is set to receive in 2024-25. Indeed, the Clippers would have to agree to swap George for Klay Thompson in a sign-and-trade.

This isn’t quite a logical deal for the Clippers due to Thompson’s defensive decline and George’s status as a premier defender. It’s also unlikely the Clippers would want to pay that much for Thompson.

Will Jazz Get in the Mix?

Perhaps one can never say never.

However, without a third team willing to take on Thompson while sending a star out to L.A, the deal doesn’t have much to stand on. As he’s a free agent, Thompson would also have to be willing to go to said team. Consequently, a team like the Portland Trail Blazers —who employ a desirable quasi-star in Jerami Grant —may not be able to help.

The most feasible third team may be the Utah Jazz.

Utah is projected to have $38.1 million in cap space this offseason. Furthermore, Thompson meshes well with Keyonte George offensively as an efficient off-ball threat who doesn’t need to dribble to score. That said, if Thompson were to head to the Jazz, Collin Sexton would be the player Utah looks to move. It’s unclear whether the Clippers have interest in Sexton, though the 25-year-old averaged 18.7 points in 26.6 minutes per game last season.


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