After suffering an early elimination in the Western Conference Playoffs, rumors continue to swirl around Paul George and the Oklahoma City Thunder. ESPN‘s Ryen Russillo recently reported that George will be leaving the Thunder when he becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer, but his next destination is yet to be revealed. Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report listed some potential free agency destinations for the All-Star forward, where he could team up with other NBA superstars.
One of the teams included on Buckley’s list is the New Orleans Pelicans. Paul George will undeniably be a great addition to the Pelicans, who are in dire need of a reliable wingman. As of now, New Orleans only have E’Twaun Moore, Ian Clark, Darius Miller, and Solomon Hill. None of those players have proven that they could be a starter on a legitimate title contender.
Unfortunately, signing another superstar like Paul George is unlikely to be the Pelicans’ main priority in the upcoming season. DeMarcus Cousins is also set to become an unrestricted free agent and is expected to demand a huge payday. Though most people believe the Pelicans are better off without Cousins, Anthony Davis reportedly wants his frontcourt partner back. Re-signing “Boogie” will limit the Pelicans’ ability to bring in another superstar to New Orleans.
However, if Paul George sees the Pelicans as an ideal landing spot, he could do the same thing Chris Paul did last offseason. According to Bobby Marks of ESPN, George could opt into his $20.7 million contract and demand a trade to a team that cannot afford to sign him as a free agent. In the proposed trade scenario, the Pelicans will be sending a trade package centered on Nikola Mirotic to the Thunder for George. The Pelicans may need to add future draft picks to sweeten the deal. Mirotic may not reciprocate George’s contribution in Oklahoma City, but it is better than losing him in free agency without getting anything in return.
For the Pelicans, this could be the best shot for them to build a title-contending team before Anthony Davis becomes a free agent in 2020 or 2021. The combination of Davis, Cousins, George, Jrue Holiday, and Rajon Rondo will undeniably strengthen the Pelicans’ chance of beating any powerhouse team in the league, even the 100 percent healthy Golden State Warriors. George will not only give New Orleans a reliable wing, but also someone who can guard the likes of LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Gordon Hayward.