Paul George and Kawhi Leonard made the Clippers title contenders the second they arrived. Their combined talents, alongside the richest, most talented supporting cast in the league made them favorites to win the Championship this season.
Unfortunately, days removed from their exit in the second round, the team finds themselves in quite a bind as they face questions and doubts regarding the long-term stability of the roster.
The two stars are only locked in for one more year and if they leave, the Clippers have virtually nothing to work with in regards to trying a rebuild.
This dilemma has put them in an interesting position, and one that could force them to give up one of their core members.
One trade suggested by Andrew Hughes of Fansided’s Hardwood Houdini involves sending two-way star Paul George to the Celtics for Gordon Hayward and three future first-round picks.
While the damage won’t be undone fully, LA could move on from the George-Leonard pairing while adding a more efficient scorer in Gordon Hayward. While the deal makes the Clippers less talented on the surface, having a player more secure in an off-ball role in Hayward could make things less murky in crunch time.
For the Cs, this move accomplishes a few things. The first is fixing the surplus of draft picks and two-way contracted talents like Tremont Waters and the 7-foot-5 messiah Tacko Fall that are accompanied by the shortage of roster spots.
Secondly, it is a move to add a third (or potentially fourth if Jaylen Brown can make the jump) All-Star to a roster that could be just short of an NBA Championship or Eastern Conference crown. While giving up the draft picks isn’t fun, the Cs roster seems locked in for the foreseeable future, so this would essentially be a one-for-one given the lack of opportunities the incoming picks would have.
Giving up a star like George is never easy, but it could work in L.A.'s favor. Hayward is a solid player, border-line All-Star, and a seemingly perfect fit alongside Kawhi and the rest of the Clippers roster. The real catch, of course, would be the first-round picks, which would be a safety net in the case things fall apart in the near future.
In Boston, the arrival of George would add an additional wing threat to a team already stacked with talent. Between Kemba, Tatum, and Brown, the Celtics wouldn't have to rely on PG to close games, but adding his scoring capabilities and defensive prowess would only solidify their claim as an Eastern Conference elite.
In the end, trading a guy like Paul George (even with all his shortcomings) is a last resort for the Clippers and it's not something they'll be emphasizing this offseason. Still, they should consider all options and trading George could be the right move if they get a good offer. Boston has the motive and the assets to provide such an offer.