Inside Warriors’ Nearly Successful Paul George Trade Pursuit

Paul George, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, NBA Trade Rumors
John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

The Golden State Warriors can no longer acquire Paul George after he declined his player option to reach free agency, eliminating the most straightforward pathway to a trade involving the Los Angeles Clippers.

According to Tim Kawakami of The Athletic, the Warriors made multiple trade offers to the Clippers for George before he opted out of his contract and entered unrestricted free agency.

The Warriors’ proposals reportedly included various combinations of Chris Paul, Andrew Wiggins, Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody, and a future first-round pick. Although the Warriors did not intend to offer all these assets simultaneously, the front office believed they presented several viable trade options to the Clippers.

NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors Updates

The Warriors were also prepared to offer George a new max contract extension, contingent on him opting into the final year of his current deal. However, George chose to opt-out and will test the free-agent market.

George is set to meet with the Clippers, Philadelphia 76ers, and Orlando Magic at the start of free agency. Both the Sixers and Magic have the cap space to sign him outright.

The Clippers and George have been in prolonged negotiations over an extension, but no agreement has been reached. George is seeking a four-year max contract, while the Clippers have offered a three-year deal similar to the $149.7 million extension signed by Kawhi Leonard in January. This stalemate has created a tense situation, with the Clippers risking losing George for nothing if they don’t meet his demands as free agency approaches.

The Clippers are about $54.1 million below the first tax apron and $65 million below the second apron. Re-signing George would bring them close to the first apron without considering James Harden‘s potential return. Bringing back both Harden and George would push the Clippers past the second apron, significantly limiting their roster flexibility.

NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors Updates

The new CBA has also created a financial squeeze for the Warriors, who may see Klay Thompson leave in free agency for financial reasons. Despite being the NBA’s most expensive team in recent years, owner Joe Lacob wants to avoid the luxury tax.

Missing out on George leaves the Warriors in a difficult position. They could reduce their tax burden by waiving Chris Paul’s $30 million contract, but this move might condemn them to the lottery for the foreseeable future.

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