Massive Paul George Free Agency Update: 4 Possible Suitors

Paul George, James Harden, Los Angeles Clippers, NBA Rumors
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

After the Los Angeles Clippers secured a three-year, $152.4 million deal with Kawhi Leonard earlier this year, many anticipated a similar contract extension for Paul George. However, with George approaching NBA free agency, his lack of an extension with the Clippers has placed him at the forefront of the rumor mill.

As reported by ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the most straightforward route for George to join a new team would be through the Philadelphia 76ers or Orlando Magic, both of which have the necessary cap space to sign him outright. Another option would involve an opt-in-and-trade deal that could pave the way for George to land with other teams, such as the New York Knicks or Miami Heat.

“We know that the 76ers are interested. This is not a mystery. We know there’s other teams that would be interested including maybe the Orlando Magic,” Windhorst said. “There isn’t a doubt right now that sometimes a player says ‘Hey, I want a certain number.’ And you’re, like, ‘Well, where are you getting that number?’ It’s just a posture. Paul George doesn’t have to posture. He has legitimate other offers and yet here he is still a free agent. Why? He’s from L.A. He wants to be a Clipper. He has extended with them in the past. They were last year before Kawhi [Leonard] got hurt again, as formidable as a team in the Western Conference. There was a time where we thought they were a finalist favorite when they were healthy.

“Why, why have they not made that offer? They know he’s got other options and what we’re led to believe is that the offer that they made to Kawai, which was three years and $150 million,” Windhorst explained. “By the way, it’s not just the annual money, it’s also the years. If I’m 35-year-old Paul George, I want five years from the Clippers, I’m eligible to get five years, I want all five, or at least four. Why aren’t they doing that? They have to know that he can walk on them for nothing, so why?”

NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers Updates

It remains to be seen what the future holds for George and the Clippers. The underlying theme regarding the organization is the perceived desire to form as talented a team as possible for the inaugural season of the Intuit Dome, the new stadium, and the team’s new arena in Inglewood to open next season.

Without George in the fold, the Clippers undoubtedly will take a step back. However, another factor to consider is that Harden is also entering free agency. Windhorst suggested letting both George and Harden walk to operate as a cap space team.

“And also when it comes to the Clippers, James Harden is sitting there,” Windhorst said. “James Harden is a free agent at the end of the month. What about Harden? If Paul George walks, you could let Harden walk and start half your team over. You’d be a cap space team. They have multiple options. The Clippers could still sign Paul George on July 1st. They could sign Paul George this afternoon, but the fact that they are not seemingly reacting to what his market clearly is, is something to pay attention to. It’s a bit of a fascinating development.”

NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers Updates

It’s difficult to envision an outcome in which the Clippers do not retain George and do not regress as a team. Given how limited a potential window Leonard has to contend with his extensive injury history, questions should naturally be raised about the viability of the organization’s current direction in such a scenario.

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