Knicks Trade Pitch Nets Team $176 Million All-Star This Summer

Tom Thibodeau, New York Knicks

Getty Head coach Tom Thibodeau of the New York Knicks.

The New York Knicks have built a roster ready to contend for an Eastern Conference crown, and this summer could be when they find the missing piece who puts them over the top.

Grant Hughes of Bleacher Report on Saturday, June 15, compiled a list of the best and worst destinations for some of the biggest NBA names who might be on the move in the coming weeks. A lot of the focus centered on free agency, though when it came to Paul George and the Knicks, Hughes flipped the discussion to trade talk.

This really comes down to whether you believe the Knicks are a better destination for George than the Philadelphia 76ers, who have max cap space (and then some) and have been most frequently mentioned as the biggest threat to sign PG away from the Los Angeles Clippers.

This isn’t a conversation if we limit it to teams that can sign George. The Knicks don’t have the cap space to get him, and they’re also going to pay through the nose to keep OG Anunoby. But New York could absolutely work out a trade package to bring George across the country, and he’d fit perfectly as a Julius Randle replacement next to Anunoby, Jalen Brunson, Isaiah Hartenstein (also a free agent) and Josh Hart.

Maybe the Sixers offer the loftier ceiling because they have an in-prime MVP [in Joel Embiid] and an ascendant second star in [Tyrese] Maxey. But New York’s floor is much higher, and the thought of tethering himself to yet another ultra-talented but constantly injured superstar might not appeal to George.

Knicks Need Paul George to Opt Into Final Year of Contract to Orchestrate Trade

Paul George

GettyPaul George of the Los Angeles Clippers.

George can sign an extension for more than $221 million with the Clippers, while Philadelphia can ink the forward to a max deal of $212 million if he opts out of the final year of his contract this summer.

As Hughes explained, George opting out is good news for teams willing to max him out in free agency, but the Knicks aren’t in a position to do that. As such, George foregoing the final $48.8 million of his $176 million contract would actually be bad news for New York.

A Clippers team motivated into a sign-and-trade deal centered around George, so as not to lose a player of his caliber for nothing, is the situation in which George might actually move from the biggest West Coast market to the most relevant East Coast market.

However, Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report predicted on Friday that George ends up in Philly alongside Embiid and Maxey.

“While many NBA insiders have long expected a compromise between the Los Angeles Clippers and Paul George on an extension, the absence of a deal suggests an impasse,” Pincus wrote. “With the Philadelphia 76ers’ significant spending power, the 34-year-old has the leverage to push the Clippers lest he relocates to the Eastern Conference.”

Paul George’s Versatility Makes Him Good Fit for Knicks’ Style on Offense, Defense

Clippers star Paul George

Getty Paul George of the Los Angeles Clippers.

George looks like a superb fit with the Knicks on paper. He’s a versatile and skilled player on offense who can play both on and off the ball while also being able to guard multiple positions on defense.

And at 6-feet-8, George is the kind of rangy and skilled wing player that has dominated the league in the modern era. He has earned nine All-Star Game selections and averaged 20.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.7 steals on 44% shooting and 38.5% from deep across 14 professional seasons, per Basketball Reference.

George’s averages have been considerably better than those figures over his last nine campaigns, starting in 2015-16 when his points per game jumped to 23.1 and have yet to fall below 21.5 in any season since.

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