Community Shootaround: Trading Paul George

What do you do when your “super team” turns out to be less than super?

That’s the question in Oklahoma City, where the future of Paul George has suddenly become one of the hottest topics in the NBA. Many expected the Thunder to challenge for Western supremacy after dealing for George and Carmelo Anthony over the offseason, but OKC has a losing record at 13-14 a third of the way through the season.

The Thunder knew George wasn’t guaranteed to be a long-term investment when they acquired him from the Pacers. He’s almost certain to opt out of a $20.7MM salary for next season and become an unrestricted free agent. His desire to join his hometown Lakers is well known and was the main reason Indiana chose to part with him.

If the Thunder are somehow able to re-sign George, finances will become a major issue for the team. Russell Westbrook‘s Designated Veteran Extension kicks in next season, boosting his salary to $35.35MM. Financial realities will likely force Anthony to bypass his early termination option and return for another year at nearly $28MM. Add in more than $24MM for Steven Adams, and those four contracts will put the Thunder well over next season’s projected cap of $101MM. Even if George were to opt in, OKC would be far into luxury tax territory with a potential salary topping $137.5MM.

Mitch Lawrence of Forbes believes a deal involving George may be coming before the February 8 trade deadline. He states that George, Westbrook and Anthony are all used to being used in isolation and haven’t been able to develop chemistry as a unit. The problem is that George’s trade value might be lower now than it was during the summer. Sending him to the Lakers may seem like a solution, but an unidentified Eastern Conference GM says L.A. wouldn’t be willing to part with two young players, and the rest of the league views George as a “rental.”

Taking the opposite position are Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today, who don’t expect the Thunder to trade George or fire coach Billy Donovan. They report that the “internal dynamic” among the three stars remains strong and there is still hope for a turnaround.

We want to know what you think. Should the Thunder try to move George now so they don’t lose him with no return, or should they wait and try to work out their salary issues next summer? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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37 thoughts on “Community Shootaround: Trading Paul George

      • Thomas Swanson

        The Lakers tried that with the Pacers. The Pacers said they wouldn’t make a trade that didn’t include Brandon Ingram.
        The player the Pacers and Cavs wanted most was Klay Thompson, but the Warriors said no. Funny thing is the Cavs could have drafted Thompson, but took Anthony Bennett instead.
        LeBron will stay in Cleveland!!!!!!!! I expect George to be traded. Where and where he ends up next season is a good question.

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        • Grant

          You’re aware Klay thompson and anthony bennett are in different draft classes right? Like by a few years

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          • Thomas Swanson

            Sorry. Thompson was in same draft as Kyrie. Bennett was 2 years later.

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          • Thomas Swanson

            Don’t forget to watch the Lakers@Cavs tonight (Thursday) on Fox Sports Ohio and TNT @ 8 p.m..
            Do you watch games?

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            • CobiEven

              Why are you asking him if he watches the games? You are the one who messed up. Way to redirect.

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              • Thomas Swanson

                He’s trolling all the time. Like to see him make his own comment rather than criticize.

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                • Thomas Swanson

                  Wish people would use the ESPN trade machine to see if trades are doable!

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          • ksucats

            Nah Cleveland should have draft the Greek freak instead of Bennett

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            • Connorsoxfan

              I’m still bitter the Celts took Olynyk 2 spots before Giannis

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    • Thomas Swanson

      Everybody knows Randle will be asking for too much money, and he can’t shoot. Clarkson has been available for a long time. Deng is not tradeable. If the Laker do manage to sign 2 max free agents, Brook Lopez and Caldwell-Pope will be gone. To get George it’s going to take Ingram or no deal!

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    • liamsfg

      This makes sense only because Randle’s contract is expiring and Clarkson is getting paid too much.

      He’s making over $10mil next year and the Lakers want that off the books.

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  1. Jerry Handy

    Good they don’t need Randle the bull nor no defend playing quick shooting Clarkson

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  2. Thomas Swanson

    When George was with Pacers and his agent was talking with the Lakers GM Rob Pelinka (that cost them $500,000 and only reason NBA didn’t ban him from signing with Lakers is he didn’t actually sign a contract), George said he was from L.A. and wanted the Hollywood treatment. He is a good offensive and can defend multiple positions. He wants a championship bad. I think he’d take a paycut and go to Warriors or Cavs with LeBron or even the Rockets over the Lakers. They are still several years away from competing for a championship.

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  3. smittybanton

    1. Wait until February to decide.

    2. You forgot to mention that Carmelo Anthony can opt in for $28M next year. Not winning, George leaves, and Anthony opts in. Yikes!

    3. OKC needs someone who will take Carmelo off their hands in the George deal. Although that lessens the return. Who has $46M to match salaries?

    4. JJ Redick (23m, expiring), Amir Johnson (10m, expiring), Trevor Booker (9m, expiring). Add a young player or two (Holmes, McConnell, TLC, Korkmaz). And that’s $46M.

    5. Ben Simmons, Paul George, Robert Covington, Carmelo Anthony, Joel Embiid. Sixers starting five is already top five in the league, statistically. Replace JJ Redick with George and Saric with Carmelo. It will work for the Sixers for the reasons it didnt work in OKC: Ben Simmons is a pass first point guard.

    6. Sixers re-sign George over the summer. Sixers only signed Redick for one year for a reason. They’re going after George over the summer. They need the advantage of five years and 8% raises, also get him acclimated and winning this year, as the Sixers with George go deep into the Eastern Conference playoffs this year.

    7. OKC seriously considers also trading Russell Westbrook for Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram. Then with $60M in cap space, signing Kentavious Caldwell Pope, Julius Randle and Jabari Parker. Keep Steven Adams.

    8. Lakers clear Deng. Then add Demarcus Cousins and Lebron James to Russell Westbrook, Jordan Clarkson and Kyle Kuzma. Dwyane Wade comes over. So does Carmelo Anthony after the Sixers buy him out over the summer and stretch the $28M option.

    Simmons, George, Covington, Anthony, Embiid
    Ball, KCP, Ingram, Parker, Adams
    Westbrook, Clarkson, Kuzma, LBJ, Cousins

    Make it so!

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    • Thomas Swanson

      Philly wanted George when he came off leg injury. Everybody was saying LeBron might consider Houston. Carmello wanted to play with CP3 real bad. Paul said he likes it there. Stephen A. Smith said he thinks LeBron will stay in Cleveland. LeBron can do whatever he wants in Cleveland. He may not be able to do that in Houston. With LeBron, money talks and the Cavs have the money.

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    • yoyo137

      I think there is no way the Thunder can trade PG and Melo contract in the same deal.

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    • x%sure

      The Philly deal is scarily possible, and only needs the three bigger-salary guys. The rest of the chain is unlikey.
      Philly fans might say the trade violates the premises of “the process” but the FO would find it hard to resist.
      Then OKC could go after Bron/Cousins, etc, blah blah, prob fail, but good try.

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      • Thomas Swanson

        Right after the FIBA tournament when George broke his leg, Philly fans were wearing shirts saying they wanted George. I think until they actually make the playoffs they’ll have to stick to 2nd tier free agents.
        LeBron is the one who’s always told the GM’s he wants to play with Mike Miller, James Jones, Richard Jefferson, etc. Can you think of a rookie, 2nd year guy that LeBron has played with on the Cavs or Heat besides Mario Chalmers?

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      • smittybanton

        That’s all I’m saying. It’s scarily possible. Bryan Colangelo has a chance to make the team his and give his dad a chance at the ring they’ve never gotten.

        We who suffered through the Process were promised young stars out of the draft, a couple diamonds out of the rough, and then to use all the cap space and accumulated draft picks from trades on a star to complement the young’ns. Hinkie promised us a CHIP!

        Simmons, George, Covington, Anthony, Embiid!

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  4. Thronson5

    If I was the Lakers I’d offer Randle and a 2nd round pick for George and nothing more. They can either take the trade or leave it. Nobody is going to give up a lot for a player who isn’t going to stay and is going to come to LA next season. So the Lakers get rid of Randle which they plan on letting him walk in free agency anyways to free up cap space for George and another top FA and the Thunder get Randle who I think would fit well with that team and they can possible sign him to an extension before the season is over plus they get a 2nd round draft pick. People may call me crazy but I just don’t see any teams offering a whole lot for George and at least in this scenario the Thunder get a good young player who fits well with their team and who they can most likely sign cheap instead of worrying about cap space.

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    • Thomas Swanson

      Laker fans have been getting excited about free agency for several years now, and it doesn’t happen. They got excited when George was a restricted free agent with Pacers and didn’t get him.
      What’s holding the Lakers back with LeBron and George is the Lakers have the 2nd youngest team in the NBA and you don’t win championships with youth. That has a lot to do with why the Lakers are having trouble getting free agents.

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      • Thronson5

        Trust me, you’re completely right and I completely agree with you. I’m not even holding my breath we get any big free agents this offseason..I hope we do but I’m not stupid, there is no guarantee we will. I do think we are closer now to being able to get some guys to come over than we were in the past though so it’s all a waiting game and if we don’t then back to developing and waiting.

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        • Thomas Swanson

          The Warriors got good through the draft and it took time.

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  5. x%sure

    I think PGeorge would look favorably towards a half-year at the 4 with a Durant assignment on the Cavs, as a rental. Not really a good deal for OKC though, CC’S #1 + salary + youth. Osman perhaps.

    Regardless, on the Lakers he could be a 2 on offense and a 3 on defense with Ingram doing the reverse.

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    • Thomas Swanson

      Ingram is a small forward. The Pacers tried to put George at power forward, and he finally refused to do it. I thought George was going to spend his career at shooting guard until Danny Granger got hurt. I think Ingram would have to move.
      L.A. is not the reason George wanted out. He actually talked to some of the Warriors players.
      Gilbert likes George and wants him to sign an extension. George is buddies with LeBron.

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    • Thomas Swanson

      The cavs have been pushing Shumpert and Frye for some time. Since the Brooklyn pick won’t be in the top 7, I wonder if they’d trade it now.

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    • Thomas Swanson

      I hope the Cavs beat the Lakers by 50 tonight. I think the Cavs have been softies. I know they are starting to rest players. Just beat the snot out of the Lakers. I get tired of hearing about their past. This is now!

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  6. It wouldn’t make much sense for the Lakers to trade for Paul George. Randle continues to be underrated as a do it all forward and Clarkson is a legitimate candidate for 6th man of the year. IMO the Lakers are better off either signing him in the offseason, or building a package around Randle if they decide now to not resign him

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  7. Connorsoxfan

    What about Randle, Clarkson, and either Zubac or a lottery protected Lakers first in ‘19 or ‘20 (basically a placeholder to move for a rental in a year or two anyways). I don’t know a lot about Zubac other than that he’s an interesting piece so not sure if that’s fair value or not, but Clarkson, Randle, protected future first for George and a 2nd sounds about right.

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  8. Thomas Swanson

    George plays small forward. The Pacers and Lakers want Ingram to replace him. I watched Randle at Kentucky, but much with Lakers. NBA teams want power forwards who can shoot threes.

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