NBA Insider Suggests Underrated Knicks Offseason Trade Target

The New York Knicks are being tied to potential trades for several big time players this offseason and one is believed to be flying under the radar.
LA Clippers guard Norman Powell (24), forward Paul George (13), center Ivica Zubac (40), center Daniel Theis (10) and forward Kawhi Leonard (2) react in the second half during game five of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
LA Clippers guard Norman Powell (24), forward Paul George (13), center Ivica Zubac (40), center Daniel Theis (10) and forward Kawhi Leonard (2) react in the second half during game five of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

For the past two years, the New York Knicks have been entrenched in endless rumors and reports surrounding their ability to seek and trade for one of the NBA’s biggest players and add the final piece needed to officially contend for their first championship in nearly 51 years. 

If one thing is for certain, the Knicks find themselves in the perfect situation to attract the next disgruntled star to the Big Apple. In the next six years, the Knicks boast a slew of first-round draft picks, including seven of their own which are all unprotected and an eighth with some form of flexibility to be dealt. They currently hold two consecutive first round selections at No. 24 (via Dallas) and 25 in June’s draft and an additional second-round pick at No. 38 to wave in front of opposing teams. 

Already having moved some of their younger prospects in the January trade with Toronto for OG Anunoby, New York will rely heavily on their assembled draft capital, and maybe a veteran asset, to lure the next franchise altering superstar to the Mecca in 2024. The good news is that Leon Rose has done a masterful job to give them up the largest briefcase in the entire league going into the offseason, creating the potential for one of the most active trade periods in recent team history. 

One of the names that have already been tied to the Knicks in rumors and trade proposals is Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell, whom the team missed out on a couple summers ago when he was placed on the open market by the Utah Jazz. The organization has also been suggested as an immediate suitor for several A-tier names like Lebron James, Kevin Durant and Devin Booker, all of whom could demand new homes after lackluster postseasons. 

Yet, there is an extra name floating way below the surface that one NBA insider thinks isn’t getting the attention he might deserve. In a recent tweet, Forbes Sports NBA reporter Evan Sidery proposed a scenario where the Knicks could explore a opt-in and trade with the Los Angeles Clippers for forward Paul George, whom Sidery labeled an “underrated” target to monitor this offseason.

Sidery noted a few of the major connections between George and New York, mentioning that last summer the team reached out to Los Angeles about the status of the All-Star player in the days leading to the 2023 NBA Draft. He also pointed to Rose’s familiarity with George due to his representation by CAA, the general manager’s former agency. 

The idea comes as George enters the final year of a four-year $176 million max contract that he signed in 2021 with the Clippers that features a player option for the upcoming season. Per Spotrac, if the 35-year-old chooses to accept the option and remain in Los Angeles for 2024-25, he could make an upward of $44 million and be a much cheaper asset for any team to take on for that season. 

Sidery believes that the Knicks could set up an opt-in and trade scenario for George by offering an identical salary match found with the contracts of Julius Randle and Bojan Bogdanovic, both players whose futures are uncertain in the Big Apple. Randle is also entering the final year of his four-year deal holding an average annual value of nearly $30 million and his need is being questioned after the team stayed afloat despite him missing most of the 2023 season with a shoulder injury. 

Bogdanovic’s contract would throw in the remaining $19.5 million required to meet the salary match and then the deal would come down to how many first-round draft selections are exchanged. A fair guess would suggest 2-3 selections being involved in the trade given George’s status as a potential max contract player at the age of 35, but that is also where this type of deal can get a little tricky. 

There is the likely possibility that George elects to opt out of his player option and chase one last max contact before his career is up. Even at his age, the 6’8” forward has been performing at the highest offensive level of his 12-year stint in the pros. He posted 22.6 points and 5.2 rebounds per game while shooting over 41.3% from both the field and the arc for the third time in that same span. 

That is definitely some offensive production that is deserving of a max level extension for a veteran of George’s caliber, but it would inflate his annual cap hit to a level that would test the Knicks’ pockets at a time when they are looking to extend Jalen Brunson and fill other roster holes as well. Depth is a huge concern for the team entering the summer, and trading two current players for George would be counterproductive to fixing that problem.

George’s defense has also become a liability in recent seasons, an element that is demanded of players under head coach Tom Thibodeau. Add in his potential to get easily hurt as he hits the bookend years of his career and George is an overlooked option that maybe should stay one as New York searches for the final piece to their championship puzzle. 

It’s more likely he earns his bag from more forward-desperate teams like the Clippers or Philadelphia 76ers and the Knicks save their flexibility for the right option.

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