Four years ago, the Los Angeles Clippers gave up one of the biggest trade packages in NBA history to land Paul George. With Kawhi Leonard on the line, the Clippers surrendered Shai Gilgeous-Alexader, Danilo Gallinari, five first round picks and two first round swaps to land the All-Star forward in the hopes that it would launch the team towards its first championship in franchise history.
Four years later, things haven’t exactly gone according to plan. The Leonard-George duo has made it through the postseason healthy only once, when they blew a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets in the Orlando bubble. Both are eligible for four-year, $200 million-plus extensions, and if they don’t get them, both can leave as free agents next offseason. We’ve reached an inflection point in the Leonard-George era, and the Clippers appear to at least be weighing alternatives.
According to Marc Stein, rival executives believe that the Clippers are gauging George’s trade value ahead of the NBA Draft. It is unclear at this stage how seriously they would consider trading George or what they would want in return, but such a move would mark the end of one of the more disappointing partnerships in recent NBA history. The Clippers were the championship favorites when George and Leonard arrived, but the pair ultimately won only two playoff series together, with George carrying the Clippers to a third after Leonard got hurt in 2021.
An obvious trade partner, if the Clippers are serious about pursuing a move like this, would be the Portland Trail Blazers. Portland holds the No. 3 overall pick in Thursday’s draft and appears committed to putting a winner around Damian Lillard now, and the Blazers have always struggled to find defensive-minded wings to pair with him. George would seemingly fill that hole, and he and Lillard have very complementary skill sets.
We’re in peak smokescreen season with less than 48 hours before the draft. There’s no telling how seriously the Clippers are really considering a George trade. But for four years, they’ve almost never had George and Leonard on the floor at the same when it counts. If they were to break this duo up, they’d be more than justified in doing so.