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#pounditFriday, June 14, 2024

Clippers to target 6-time All-Star if Paul George leaves?

Paul George with the ball in his hand

Jan 22, 2023; Dallas, Texas, USA; LA Clippers guard Paul George (13) brings the ball up court against the Dallas Mavericks during the second half at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

If Paul George leaves in free agency this offseason, the LA Clippers may end up getting [checks notes] even older.

Michael Scotto of HoopsHype reported on Tuesday that six-time All-Star wing DeMar DeRozan could be a potential target for the Clippers should they be unable to retain George. Scotto notes that DeRozan, an unrestricted free agent himself this summer, is generally expected to return to the Bulls. However, he reportedly could end up being of sign-and-trade interest to the Clippers in the event that George departs.

George, 34, is eligible to sign a new max deal with the Clippers of four years and roughly $221 million. But the Clippers reportedly do not want to pay him more than they already paid Kawhi Leonard recently (three years and about $150 million), especially as a team staring down the dreaded second luxury-tax apron. The Clips also need to navigate a new free-agent deal this offseason for big trade acquisition James Harden. That has opened the door for George to potentially walk when he officially becomes a free agent at the end of June, possibly to this team that is heavily interested in him.

As for DeRozan, he is a native of the L.A. area. He also remains an elite scorer who is excellent in clutch situations, rarely misses games, and has developed underrated playmaking skills in recent years as well.

But with regard to the Clippers, the cons with DeRozan probably far outweigh the pros at this point. DeRozan is a sizable downgrade from George when it comes to defense and three-point shooting ability. He is actually slightly older than George too (DeRozan turns 35 in August) and projects as a poor fit next to Leonard, who is a similarly midrange-heavy isolation scorer.

Nevertheless, manuevering into a sign-and-trade for DeRozan would still probably be a better option for the Clippers than simply losing George for nothing (with no way to replicate his production in free agency as a capped-out team). With the Clippers set to begin play in their new home the Intuit Dome in 2024-25 as well, they need big names on the roster to sell seats. Along with DeRozan, we recently saw the Clippers linked to some other aging former All-Stars too.

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