The offseason can be a time for players to connect with other players, sometimes with the result being an understanding that they would like to play together.
For Atlanta Hawks swingman Bogdan Bogdanovic, it’s unclear if that was the result of his latest photo-op, a shot of him and Los Angeles Clippers star Paul George partying it up with singer Cvija in Belgrade through the early morning hours on July 17.
Atlanta has been a staple in trade rumors this offseason, especially before the 2023 NBA Draft, after their trade of John Collins to the Utah Jazz seemingly opened up a spot in the starting lineup. And their activity post-draft has followed that path, albeit with a more defined target in Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam.
But Siakam’s resistance to being traded is not helping already-slow trade talks.
Siakam, 29, is entering the final year of a four-year, $136.9 million contract. And while he doesn’t have a no-trade clause, he could leave for nothing next offseason.
George, 32, is in a similar situation, heading into the last year of his four-year, $176.2 million pact. The Clippers have been in rumored pursuit of Philadelphia 76ers star James Harden and even looking to get involved in trade talks for Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard.
However, they are also said to have held trade talks with the New York Knicks in a deal that would have swapped George for Evan Fournier, Quentin Grimes, Obi Toppins, and three first-round picks, per Michael Scotto of HoopsHype on July 6. Toppin has since been traded to the Indiana Pacers, though.
Trading for Clippers’ Paul George could be too risky for Hawks
Atlanta forward De’Andre Hunter has been mired in trade rumors, assuming the mantle for the departed Collins.
Hunter, 25, is starting a four-year, $90 million rookie extension this coming season; a contract that was given to him by former team president Travis Schlenk who also signed Collins to his five-year, $125 million contract and is said to have rejected a trade for the big man last season.
Schlenk stepped down in December which would seem to make his decisions fair game for general manager Landry Fields as he remakes the roster for head coach Quin Snyder who joined the team after the All-Star break this past season. A package of Hunter and Clint Capela satisfies league rules.
Bogdanovic would seemingly be safe from a potential deal for George based on this picture — which means very little — unless the deal would be sending the Hawks swingman to Los Angeles. He just signed a four-year, $68 million contract in March and can’t be traded until September.
But acquiring the eight-time All-Star George is about more than the outgoing assets.
George is eligible to sign a four-year max contract worth up to $220 million and, if he cannot reach an agreement on a new deal, can decline his $48.8 million player option for 2024-25.
That is a lot of risk to take – potentially even more than Siakam – given George’s injury history which includes just 189 total appearances out of a possible 308 over the last four seasons – an average of nearly 30 missed games per season.
Hunter has also dealt with injuries but his peak is also a George-like two-way threat while a third team would likely be needed to take on Capela who is starting a two-year, $46 million contract extension next season that he also received while Schlenk was in charge. That deal also adds nearly $5 million to the bottom line, though George would raise the Hawks’ ceiling.
It’s just that their ceiling could be even lower if he once again ends up missing a chunk of time during the season.