The Los Angeles Clippers are going to come into next season looking a little different than they did this year. Former head coach Doc Rivers is out, that much is known for certain. Will any players join him?
According to Jovan Buha of The Athletic, the Clippers would be open to trading Paul George if the right deal came along. Unlike Kawhi Leonard, the organization does not view him as “untouchable.”
“I think Leonard is the only untouchable on the roster,” Buha wrote. “George is close to untouchable, but I think the Clippers would move him for the right package – and, obviously, if that was Leonard’s preferred outcome.”
Buha is not the first person to suggest this. Jason McIntyre of Fox Sports said something similar a few weeks back.
“I’ve heard, at the exit interviews, Paul George didn’t get ‘rave reviews’ from his teammates,” he said on his podcast.
“My source would not be shocked if Paul George was shipped out of town.”
George’s inaugural campaign with the Clippers obviously could have gone better. He was absent for the entirety of the offseason workouts, training camp, preseason and first 11 outings of the regular season.
That absence showed itself in a lack of chemistry with many of his teammates and his – at times – rusty play.
The chemistry issue, in particular, was problematic as the year went, especially in the postseason.
There was the infamous Montrezl Harrell clash during Game 2 of their Western Conference semifinals showdown against the Denver Nuggets.
Then there was the time, after the Clippers got bounced by the Nuggets, when he tried to give his teammates a motivational speech — only to be met with “eye rolls and bewilderment.”
And of course there was the time Leonard’s trainer clowned George with zero remorse.
Still, even with all that being said, George is a superior talent in the NBA. He shot a career high 41.2 percent from beyond the arc during the regular season, while also averaging 21.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game.
Defensively, although at times he looked a little less spry than in years past, he was still arguably the Clippers’ best on-ball defender.
George is currently entering the second year of a potentially three-year deal with the Clippers. He will make $35.4 million in 2020-21 and has a player option for $37.9 million in 2021-22.
That is a lot of money.
If LA ultimately contends for a title next season, then obviously it is worth it. But if they disappoint in similar fashion to this year, then suddenly you’re overspending by a ton.
Not ideal. https://t.co/VEQ6PZVKn7
— Game 7 (@game7__) October 13, 2020
What sort of deal would it take to pry George away from the Clippers? Something pretty major.
Bleacher Report recently suggested a trade that would send George and Ivica Zubac to the Philadelphia 76ers in return for Joel Embiid and Josh Richardson.
While it seems like Philly is intent on riding into next year with its existing roster and seeing what Rivers can do with it, a swap like that would actually make a ton of sense for both sides.
Probably not the reaction the Lakers were expecting. https://t.co/MO9HgHizSo
— Game 7 (@game7__) October 12, 2020
Leonard and Embiid would make a significantly better duo than Leonard and George, and losing Embiid from the Sixers’ lineup would enable Ben Simmons to run the offense more efficiently.
There have also been some murmurs regarding a deal with the Washington Wizards where Bradley Beal would end up in Los Angeles, and George would team up with a — hopefully — healthy John Wall.
Finally, there was chatter of a package consisting of Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie and Jarrett Allen being offered up by the Brooklyn Nets in hopes of acquiring George, but it is unclear how viable that deal is.
Things are about to get real interesting. https://t.co/1OzL7DlZ46
— Game 7 (@game7__) October 12, 2020
All in all, the odds of George remaining in Los Angeles are still better than him being traded. The Clippers gave up a ton to get him, and the return would have to be hefty in order to make something worthwhile.
But as Clippers owner Steve Ballmer showed with his abrupt decision to dismiss Rivers, he is not afraid of making a big move.
Will his next one involve trading George? Time will tell.