Bleacher Report proposes this blockbuster trade between the Hawks and Clippers

NBA: MAR 18 Magic at Clippers

Bleacher Report’s NBA trade hypotheticals can be a bit shaky, especially when they involve the Hawks. However, I think this one is not only realistic, but very interesting. Back in June, I wrote about three blockbuster trade targets for the Hawks. Among those targets was Paul George of the Los Angeles Clippers. Here’s what I had to say about George’s potential fit in Atlanta:

While he’s the most decorated name on this list, George probably presents the most risk. However, he could be the easiest to acquire. The trade with the Oklahoma City to get George has blown up in Los Angeles’ face, as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has blossomed into a star, and the Thunder still hold a ton of their picks. George and co-star Kawhi Leonard have both battled injuries, and both guys can opt out after the 2023-2024 season. There’s a ton of risk here, but when Paul George is playing, he’s still one of the better players in the NBA. Over 56 games, George averaged 23.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 5.1 assists with a 58.8 true shooting percentage. I don’t know if the juice will be worth the squeeze with the money and risk associated, but George is a perfect fit for Atlanta if he can stay healthy.

I stand by that sentiment, so does this trade proposed by Bleacher Report between the Hawks and Clippers make sense?

Atlanta Hawks receive: Paul George

Los Angeles Clippers receive: De’Andre Hunter, Bogdan Bogdanović, Kobe Bufkin and 2024 first-round pick (lottery protected, via SAC)

Since their surprise flight to the 2021 Eastern Conference Finals, the Hawks have basically been grounded the past two seasons. They’ve won just two more games than they’ve lost over this stretch while posting a 3-8 mark in a pair of first-round losses. Their latest flight plan involved the February hiring of head coach Quin Snyder and a summer extension of Dejounte Murray. Those should help cement a foundation for the franchise, but they still feel a star short of soaring up the standings.

Targeting George makes a ton of sense. They need a lockdown defender on the perimeter, another high-level scoring threat and someone who can thrive both on and off the ball. When healthy, he fits that description about as well as anyone, serving as basically the ideal outcome for what the Hawks hoped they were getting in Hunter, the No. 4 pick in 2019. Plus, George could realistically become available at some point between now and February—if he isn’t already. The Clippers might be tired of clinging to fading hopes that one day George and Kawhi Leonard will both be healthy when it matters most. They also could have trouble stomaching the idea of re-signing both next summer, assuming they ditch their 2024-25 player options.

Given George’s age, injury issues and contract uncertainty, he shouldn’t cost a fortune either. The Clippers aren’t giving him away here, but this is far from top-dollar for an eight-time All-Star who perpetually ranks among the planet’s top two-way talents.

As for L.A., if it doesn’t plan on paying George, then this return offers value both today (to help Leonard) and tomorrow (when Leonard is potentially gone).

Hunter is a three-and-D forward who seemingly adds to his offensive arsenal every season. Bogdanović is a slippery scorer with an outside shot and a penchant for passing. Bufkin, this summer’s No. 15 pick, is a combo guard who can pull up, pass and finish at the basket. Throw in a lottery-protected first, and the Clippers are coming away with a good amount of assets.

I think this is a pretty fair deal in terms of assets, but the Hawks would be taking on a substantial amount of risk. You’re taking a big swing at a potential one-year rental while giving up two quality players under team control, along with essentially two first round picks when you include Bufkin. I believe in Saddiq Bey, so I’m okay with moving the guys here. There’s undeniable risk, but one thing you can’t deny is that this trade would bring a lot of excitement to Atlanta.

Photo: Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire

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