The Clippers and Knicks have had conversations about a potential trade for wing Paul George, according to people with knowledge of the situation not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, talks that were initiated by New York.
Though George was an All-Star forward as recently as February, multiple league insiders this week expressed doubts about what return value the team could get for him, if the Clippers are truly motivated to deal him, and believed a top draft pick in exchange for George was not within range. Those doubts, the sources said, centered on his history of injuries and contract status.
Any suitor would need to face the question the Clippers have: how much a team is willing to commit long term to George, 33, one of the league’s most talented two-way wings who has played an average of 47 games his last three seasons and is coming off of a knee strain in March that knocked him out of the playoffs. He is eligible for a contract extension for a maximum of four years and around $220 million. If one isn’t reached, he can decline his player option for the 2024-25 season and become a free agent next summer.
After some internal discussions, the Knicks have become hesitant about acquiring George. The Knicks also think George’s representatives will ask for a contract extension. He’s due to earn $45.6 million next season and $48.8 million the following season if he exercises his option.
The Trail Blazers are another team that reportedly had interest in George, but Portland has decided not to pursue him.
The notion that the Clippers are even entertaining discussions for George — “quietly,” as one person said — is a stark change from the team’s public stance at season’s end.
In April, when asked about contract extensions for George and co-star Kawhi Leonard, Clippers president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank called them “great players, and they’re great partners, and we want to keep them as Clippers for a long time.”