NBA: Could Clippers Move Paul George Before Draft?

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NBA: Los Angeles Clippers-Media Day

The Los Angeles Clippers are generating significant buzz ahead of the NBA draft as rumors circulate that they may be exploring the possibility of trading Paul George and potentially dismantling the Kawhi Leonard/George tandem. NBA reporter Marc Stein has reported that some rival teams believe the Clippers are actively assessing George’s trade value and seriously considering the idea of breaking up the star duo.

Are There Possible Suitors For PG?

The Portland Trail Blazers and Houston Rockets, holding the third and fourth picks respectively in the upcoming draft, have been mentioned as potential destinations if the Clippers decide to make a blockbuster move. Both teams offer intriguing possibilities for Los Angeles should they opt to pursue such a trade.

The Clippers find themselves at a crucial juncture. When they paired Leonard with George before the 2019-20 season, they set their sights on a championship and adopted a win-now mentality. However, despite their star-studded roster, the team has failed to advance beyond the Western Conference Finals in their tenure together. Durability has been a major concern, as evidenced by Leonard’s absence in the 2021 Western Conference Finals against the Phoenix Suns due to injury.

During the recent season, Leonard suffered a knee injury in the first-round series against the Suns, while George was sidelined for the entire series due to a knee issue of his own. Complicating matters further, both Leonard and George will soon be eligible for four-year contract extensions exceeding $200 million. They can both become free agents next summer if they decline their player options for the 2024-25 season.

Do The Clips Tear It Down?

The Clippers now face a crucial decision: Is it wise to commit such a substantial investment to two players in their 30s with injury concerns, or should they consider a different direction by trading for a high draft pick to reset the franchise?

The potential connection with the Portland Trail Blazers is not surprising, considering that trading the third overall pick for a player like George would signal a shift towards win-now mode with 32-year-old Damian Lillard. Merely relying on a rookie like Scoot Henderson or Brandon Miller may not align with Lillard’s timeline as he enters the later stages of his prime. Pairing Lillard with George could make the Trail Blazers a formidable force in the Western Conference in the near future.

Houston Could Jump Into a Contender Role With PG

As for the Houston Rockets, they have promising building blocks in Jalen Green and Jabari Smith Jr., and acquiring George could provide veteran leadership under new head coach Ime Udoka.

The Clippers find themselves at a critical juncture as they evaluate their options and weigh the potential trade value of Paul George. The outcome of these deliberations could reshape the franchise’s trajectory and have a significant impact on the Western Conference landscape.