Magic Eye to Pair Paolo Banchero With $212 Million Star: Report

Magic star Paolo Banchero

Getty Paolo Banchero #5 of the Orlando Magic celebrates after scoring during the third quarter of game five of the Eastern Conference First Round Playoffs against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Orlando Magic are one of the two Eastern Conference teams who have their eyes on Los Angeles Clippers star Paul George as Paolo Banchero’s potential running mate next season, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne.

“There are two teams right now who are paying very close attention to Paul George — the Orlando Magic and the Philadelphia 76ers because both of them have the money to throw at him and need for wing just like him, a veteran guy,” Shelburne said on “The Hoop Collective” podcast.

The Magic could reach as much as $66 million in cap space while the Sixers have the potential to have almost $56 million in cap space, according to Bleacher Report’s salary cap guru Eric Pincus.

Both Eastern Conference teams can offer George his four-year max deal worth $212.2 million in free agency.

Paul George’s Future in LA Remains in Doubt

George, who just turned 34 on May 2, is still in a wait-and-see mode.

According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, what’s keeping George from signing an extension with the Clippers is they wanted a hometown discount similar to what Kawhi Leonard did.

“It’s just really a matter whether the Clippers are going to give him the max which is something that they don’t want to do because they didn’t give it to Kawhi [Leonard],” Windhorst said on “The Hoop Collective” podcast on May 1.

Leonard re-signed with the Clippers to a three-year extension worth up to $152.7 million, which is way below the maximum extension of four years and $223 million he was eligible to sign.

Shelburne added two more factors on top of the money issue that might sway George to look elsewhere this summer.

“And also if you’re Paul George, Kawhi Leonard had one of his best seasons in a long time,” Shelburne said. “He played a lot of games this year. He was very available and then yet again gets hurt right right at the critical time and that knee is it’s just seen a lot of damage. It’s just had a lot of miles on it and if you’re Paul and you’re thinking about do I want to re-up here in LA for less than the max? It’s obviously hometown discount. He hasn’t done it yet but how much faith do you put in that aging roster?”

George can look toward Florida and see himself lifting the up-and-coming Magic team into a legitimate threat in the East while earning his last big payday.

Bill Simmons Urges Paul George to Join Magic

The Ringer’s Bill Simmons believes George is the perfect wing the Magic needs to get to the next level. He’s a veteran who plays on both ends of the floor and shot 41.3% of his 3-pointers this season — the Magic’s biggest weakness.

“Maybe it’s what Orlando needs,” Simmons explained during an April 29, 2024 episode of his self-titled podcast. “I mean, if I’m Paul George and my choices are Orlando and Philly, you know what I’m doing. Going to Orlando. It’s not even a debate.

“… He’s literally what they need. Imagine next year [Jalen] Suggs, Paul George, Paolo [Banchero], Franz [Wagner], guard TBD. There’s something there.”