Marc Berman of the New York Post looked at possible trades the Knicks might consider as they look to bounce back after winning just 38 games over the past two seasons. George is a possibility since the Knicks have both the assets and salary cap space to handle his huge contract.
“For instance, the Knicks have cap room to make a deal for a high-salaried player without giving back the same cluster of wages,” Berman wrote. “The Knicks believe they have a trove of future assets — including seven first-rounders in the next four drafts.
“Here are five potential trade targets. While Donovan Mitchell appears off the board with a reported intention of signing a Utah contract extension, Paul George may emerge after the clumsy ending to the Clippers’ season.”
When the Clippers traded for George last year and signed Kawhi Leonard as a free agent, they were considered to be one of the favorites to win the NBA title.
Instead, the Clippers watched a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference semifinals disappear after three consecutive losses to the Denver Nuggets.
Berman pointed out how that meltdown, coupled with George’s ill-timed comments caused trade speculation to start swirling.
“After the Clippers blew that 3-1 lead to Denver, George reportedly annoyed teammates with a postgame sermon that hit the wrong chords, especially after his own disappointing output,” Berman wrote. “Owner Steve Ballmer reportedly was so incensed, he threatened to trade everybody and fire all the coaches. [Doc] Rivers was the first casualty.
“The Knicks desperately need a starting small forward since Marcus Morris was dealt to the Clippers. Because of his low-energy defense, Kevin Knox may only become at best a sixth-man scorer. This might be the deal in which the Knicks have to put either RJ Barrett or Mitchell Robinson on the table as George, 30, is in his two-way prime. He’s in the third year of a four-year, $136.9 million pact, making $35.4 million this season. The final year is a player option so George can become a free agent after next season.”
George’s inconsistent postseason play included six games in which he scored 15 points or less, including the Game 7 loss to the Nuggets, when he was held to just 10 points and shot just 4-of-16 from the field.
Last May, George turned 30 and has played in the NBA for 10 seasons, with regular-season career numbers of 20.0 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.7 steals per game.
Those numbers would certainly provide the Knicks with a boost, but it remains to be seen if the Knicks will mortgage some of their future for immediate gain.