Going into the next NBA season, the LA Clippers have some decisions to make – perhaps the largest being whether or not to hold onto Paul George. George is still an excellent player, but some lackluster performances in the Orlando bubble contributed to the Clippers’ early playoff exit in a major way. That doesn’t mean that the Kawhi/PG team can’t work, but it could mean a trade if the right pieces are made available.
By all accounts, it sounds like the LA front office is preparing to make some notable change-ups of one kind or another this offseason. Despite huge prowess on both ends of the floor, they’ve clearly had issues with handling high-pressure situations and establishing consistent team chemistry on the court.
Elsewhere in the Western Conference, the New Orleans Pelicans are facing identity issues of another sort. They have a promising young squad with serious offensive potential, but lackluster defense and a questionable cohesion. With Zion Williamson still yet to properly show what he’s capable of on a consistent basis, and Stan Van Gundy settling in as the new head coach, New Orleans could be looking for some larger change-ups as well. A trade of Brandon Ingram and Jrue Holiday for Paul George could work out great for both sides.
The Clippers Get An Excellent Young Wing And Veteran Guard
One of the most glaring absences from LA is a reliable star at point guard. They don’t lack for talented ball handlers, but it’s clear that they’ve invested more heavily in their wings. Jrue Holiday is a former All-Star and veteran playmaker who can become LA’s starter at the one, opening up more off-ball opportunities for Kawhi and the rest of the Clippers.
Holiday’s defense also meshes perfectly with the Clippers’ squad. George’s contributions are just as much defensive as offensive, and Holiday is one of the few players in the league who could take his spot without costing LA any notable drop-off on that end. He’s smart and experienced, capable of scoring in high volume when necessary, and wouldn’t be too big of a star to fit well with Kawhi.
In the long-term though, Ingram could be the much bigger get for LA in this deal. He made his first All-Star team this season and was named Most Improved Player while averaging 23.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game. Unless this past season was a total fluke, there are a lot more great things in store for Ingram as his career continues. He could even turn into a player of comparable ability to PG playing on the wing, but his far lower price and younger age could be a better option for Los Angeles.
The Pelicans Get The Superstar Talent They Need
In all likelihood, Zion Williamson will be an All-Star in New Orleans, and maybe even a superstar. The problem is that injury concerns and limited minutes have left his realistic potential unclear. Either way, he’s still incredibly young. Even the best players ever needed years to develop, and Williamson should be no different.
George could be an excellent acquisition during this developmental period in New Orleans. Fans may have doubts about his consistency in the clutch, but his numbers don’t lie – 21.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 3.9 assists this past season at 41.2 percent from deep. He’s a defensive force, and when partnered with JJ Redick he’d give New Orleans a serious perimeter threat at all times.
While losing Ingram and Holiday would be a big hit for the Pelicans, it wouldn’t necessarily hurt them in the long run. Lonzo Ball has succeeded most when he can focus more on playmaking and less on scoring, and he could thrive by stepping into a full-time starting role as point guard. And as Williamson gets more minutes and gets in groove with the rest of the team, he could certainly pick up some of the slack on offense, especially when paired with PG.
The Pelicans just barely missed the playoffs this year, but the West isn’t going to get any easier. While Holiday and Ingram have been excellent for them, Paul George might be a great target if New Orleans wants to add some immediate veteran firepower to its roster.