Rumors, rumors, rumors. With the 2023 NBA Draft only two weeks away, rumors are dominating the basketball ether at the moment, and perhaps no team is involved in more gossip than the Portland Trail Blazers. Armed with the No. 3 pick and a desire to add veteran talent, the potential for a blockbuster deal in Rip City certainly exists.
Jaylen Brown, Mikal Bridges, Pascal Siakam, and Deandre Ayton have been floated as options for general manager Joe Cronin to add to Portland’s roster to help Damian Lillard make a possible title push.
A new idea was recently raised by a few NBA experts, though – one that could make sense for both teams involved and would certainly add that veteran experience in a position of need for the Blazers.
Paul George could be the best trade option for Lillard and the Blazers
Clippers beat reporter Law Murray and NBA insider Sam Vecenie, both of The Athletic, discussed the possibility of swapping PG for the No. 3 pick. Murray asked if the chance to acquire Brandon Miller or Scoot Henderson would be worth the dealing away their eight-time All-Star, to which Vecenie responded, “I would do this trade in a heartbeat and not think twice if I was the Clippers.”
“I would move George for Henderson straight up if Henderson was to get to No. 3,” he added.
From LA’s perspective, the idea here would be to break up the George-Kawhi Leonard duo that has underachieved relative to expectations and potentially add a future franchise player to make the roster younger, healthier, and perhaps cheaper.
George is in the final year of his contract before a player option in 2024-25, so the Clippers would be getting out ahead of a possible extension that would see their luxury tax bill rise even higher than it already is.
The Blazers are reportedly interested in a wing/forward who could take some of the offensive burden off Lillard and improve the team’s defense. When healthy, George is elite at both.
It’s financially impossible for Portland to simply swap PG for No. 3. The Blazers would need to find a way to accommodate the six-time All-NBA forward’s $45.6 million salary. However, they’ll run into that problem no matter what star they try to acquire, if that’s the route they choose to go.
Either Portland would have to send something back to the Clippers – Jusuf Nurkic and Anfernee Simons, most likely – or the Blazers and LA would need to find a third team to add to the deal.
Frankly, though, George may be the best player the Blazers could hope to land if they do trade the third pick. He’s better than any of Brown, Bridges, Siakam, or Ayton, and unless there’s a hidden superstar somewhere that’s realistically available, pairing PG with Lillard and putting them beside Shaedon Sharpe and Jerami Grant next year would be the most competitive team Portland could field.
Whether or not it’s worth trading the third pick is a different conversation (it probably isn’t), but if that’s the direction Cronin and the Blazers decide to go in this summer, landing George might be the best they could do – and if all involved stay healthy, it really would be a lineup that could make some noise in the playoffs.