Rumor: Clippers would like to get in Paul George conversation

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Doc Rivers has said he wants to bring everyone back this summer — free agents Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and J.J. Redick — but we also know that’s not likely. Steve Ballmer may have 10,000 lifetimes worth of money, but is he willing to have one of the highest payroll/luxury tax bills in the league to run the same group back again?

What if they could land Paul George to fit with some/all of that core?

It’s a crazy longshot — the Clippers don’t have the assets to get in the conversation seriously — but they would like to, reports Sean Deveney of the Sporting News. The Clippers wanted in the George conversation back at the trade deadline (when the Pacers were not serious about dealing him).

Among them, league sources told Sporting News, are the Clippers, who have three significant free agents — Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and J.J. Redick — and are desperate to add a player who could change their perennial postseason disappointment. The Clippers have expressed interest in George.

Any team trading for George would be gambling that it could persuade him to stay in free agency, and not bolt for the Lakers in 2018. That limits the teams Indiana can deal with to a handful of contenders or teams willing to take a risk. The Clippers have slipped in their status as contenders, but they’re not risk-averse and can get George to Los Angeles, if not with the Lakers. The Clippers could work out a three-team trade to accommodate a guy like Redick or Griffin.

Would Jerry West sign off on this? Depends on the deal. It’s obvious why the Clippers want in the George dance. If they can pair George with Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan, that might be a team that could reach the Conference Finals. Maybe. But for a Clippers team who sees a small window to be a threat, they might as well go for it. And maybe George likes playing with CP3 enough to re-sign with the team next summer.

But why would the Pacers do it? They reportedly want a couple first round picks and a young rotation player in the deal (they’re not going to get that much, but that’s what they are asking for). The Clippers don’t have a first-round pick they can trade until 2021 (their 2017 goes to Toronto, 2019 to Boston, and teams can’t trade their lone first rounder in consecutive years). Also, even if you could get Griffin to agree to a sign-and-trade with a Pacers team set to rebuild — and good luck with that — Indy would just have to flip him in another deal, because he’s not part of anyone’s rebuilding plans. The Clippers don’t have much else on the roster to offer — Austin Rivers at $11.8 million, or 37-year-old Jamal Crawford — that will interest anyone.

It’s going to be a very interesting summer for the Clippers, it feels like the West hiring was the first domino in a few changes coming to the franchise. They still may want to win now, and George would help with that, but they aren’t going to get him, the Pacers will have better offers.