Lakers star LeBron James

Lakers star LeBron James


Lakers star LeBron James

The Los Angeles Lakers will attempt to re-sign LeBron James should he opt out of the final year of his contract, but a sign-and-trade deal may make sense for the right player.

Bill Simmons of The Ringer concocted a long-shot pitch on the Friday, May 25 edition of “The Bill Simmons Podcast,” in which the Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers construct a double sign and trade that moves James across town to the Clips and brings Paul George back to the Lakers.

“Here’s the solution for all of us for Paul George — a double sign and trade,” Simmons said. “LeBron gets to stay in L.A., but he goes to the Clippers to open the new stadium and finish his career there. Paul George gets to finally play with the Lakers after it was blocked by [NBA Commissioner] Adam Silver a couple years ago … and it gets to be him and A.D. [Anthony Davis] and JJ Reddick, and we’re off. It’s a new era for the Lakers.”

Paul George Remains Mired in Contract Standoff With Clippers

Paul George against Sixers

Getty Paul George of the L.A. Clippers drives against Tobias Harris of the Philadelphia 76ers during an NBA game.

While the proposal is far-fetched given the crosstown rivalry between L.A.’s professional basketball franchises and was — at least to a degree — tongue in cheek on the part of Simmons, the construct could actually work if all parties were interested.

George is about to enter the final season of his four-year, $176.3 million deal with the Clippers in 2024-25. He has been extension-eligible for the entirety of the last season for a max four-year contract that would pay him north of $221 million in total, per Forbes, though George and the Clippers have yet to come to an agreement.

The Clippers presumably want to sign George for less money, and potentially even fewer years, given the agreement they came to with Kawhi Leonard. Leonard, who has struggled with injuries since arriving in L.A. ahead of the 2019-20 campaign, recently inked a three-year extension worth approximately $150 million.

George hasn’t been vastly more reliable from a health standpoint than Leonard and is actually a little more than one full year older. The duo arrived in Los Angeles together five years ago with the renewed promise of title contention for the hapless Clippers franchise, but the team has made the Western Conference Finals only once over that span (2020-21).

James Harden will become a free agent this summer regardless, and George can hit the market as well by opting out this summer. If the two sides can’t do a deal, it would behoove the Clippers to execute a sign and trade to ensure they get an asset back in return for George.

LeBron James Still Better Player Than Paul George, Turns 40 Years Old Next Season

LeBron James

GettyLeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers.

James would make sense as a similar, or perhaps still greater talent, who isn’t going to command a four-year deal and can keep the Clippers relevant — at least from the standpoint of star power — as they move into their own arena.

For the Lakers, the logic behind a proposal like Simmons’ is similar to that of the Clippers, though different in a few crucial ways.

The team would be swapping out a highly durable player in James for a less reliable one in George, though George is five and a half years James’ junior. His career timeline fits better with Davis than James’ future does, considering the latter will turn 40 in late December.

The two players will cost in ballpark of one another, as a max deal for James in L.A. this offseason is a little less than $55 million annually (three years for $164.5 million, per Bobby Marks of ESPN). To claim that contract, James would need to opt out of his current agreement for 2024-25, which is worth $51.4 million.

James and George are also similar producers on the court, though James holds a clear statistical edge. James averaged 25.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 8.3 assists in 71 regular-season appearances last year with the Lakers, while George put up 22.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists across 74 games played for the Clippers.

Max Dible covers the NFL, NBA and MLB for, with a focus on the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears and Cleveland Browns. He covered local and statewide news as a reporter for West Hawaii Today and served as news director for and Pacific Media Group’s family of Big Island radio stations before joining Heavy. More about Max Dible

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