Proposed Hawks trade lands 8-time All-Star in line for $220 million payday

Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /

The Atlanta Hawks have paused their oft-rumored pursuit of Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam, per Shams Charania of The Athletic on August 10, who adds that they are fully prepared to enter the regular season as currently constructed.

Perhaps they should consider pursuing another target instead.

“They still feel a star short of soaring up the standings,” wrote Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report on August 11. “Targeting [Paul] 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,” Buckley continued. “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 [De’Andre] Hunter.”

George, 33, is an eight-time All-Star, six-time All-NBA pick, and four-time All-Defensive Team selection, a list of accolades that surpass that of Siakam, though the latter is a former NBA champion.

Still, George averaged 23.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 5.1 assists while shooting 45.7% from the floor and 37.1% from beyond the arc for the Los Angeles Clippers last season.

He is heading into the third year of a four-year, $176.2 million contract.

While he technically has another year on his deal and would offer some more certainty for any team that may trade for him compared to Siakam, George does have a $48.8 million player option for 2024-25 meaning he can become an unrestricted free agent after next season if things go awry.

George is eligible to sign a four-year, $220 million supermax contract extension this offseason but his future with the Clippers remains uncertain.

“The Knicks and Clippers originally had trade talks surrounding Paul George at the NBA draft,” wrote Michael Scotto of HoopsHype on July 6. “However, the asking price…and then having to negotiate a long-term extension for George, who’s 33 years old, was too high for the Knicks.”

George has also had difficulty staying on the floor in recent years.

He has made no more than the 56 appearances he logged last season since the 2018-19 campaign, and durability does not generally improve as players age. Depth is also imperative for a team with injury-prone players, particularly ones who play premium positions and are expected to help elevate the ceiling.

De’Andre Hunter Hawks’ version of a young Paul George

Hunter, 25, averaged 15.4 points while shooting 35% from deep and making a career-high 67 appearances in 2022-23. But his name has come up often in trade rumors this offseason as he gets set to begin a four-year, $90 million contract extension.

He offers many of the same traits as George, albeit perhaps a less-refined version fitting of a player eight years younger, though the latter was an All-Star by his third NBA season.

Injuries have certainly played a part in Hunter’s development or lack thereof to this point.

That he has been bandied about in trade rumors – including a reported offer for Siakam – could be an indication the Hawks don’t see that kind of ceiling as a likely outcome for the former No. 4 overall pick of the 2019 NBA Draft.

Swingman Bogdan Bogdanovic, 30, received a four-year, $68 million contract extension in March from general manager Landry Fields (unlike Hunter whose deal came from former team president Travis Schlenk). He averaged 14.0 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 2.8 assists while shooting 40.6% from deep last season, and says the Hawks want him to retire with them.

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Rookie Kobe Bufkin, 19, was the No. 15 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. He appears primed to assume duties as a backup combo guard behind Dejounte Murray and Trae Young at some point.

He has also been named as a potential swing piece to finally landing Siakam.

Maybe this is as simple as whether or not the Hawks value George more than Siakam, enough to part with a pair of proven contributors and draft compensation for a player who boasts a higher ceiling than Siakam but with far less reliability due to health.

2 Young players the Hawks should develop, 2 to give up on. dark. Next

None of that even addresses the financial aspect, though that would seem like a non-issue given the Hawks’ pursuit of Siakam.