Eastern Conference contender revealed as potential landing spot for Paul George

One championship contender in the East could be a dark horse to land George in free agency.
Paul George, Donte DiVincenzo
Paul George, Donte DiVincenzo / Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

As we are already well aware, the Paul George saga will be the biggest and most pivotal part of the LA Clippers' offseason. George has been the Clippers' second-best player for the last five seasons in a row, and his departure would of course have major ramifications on the contending status of this team moving forward.

June 29 is a big day on the Clippers' calendar, as Paul can choose to opt into his player option for next season up until that date. If he does not, he becomes an unrestricted free agent and will be able to sign wherever he can earn the payday he desires.

Of course, opting in would carry with it the possibility he intends to return to LA next season. But there is also a scenario where George chooses to opt in with the intent of still taking his talents elsewhere via an "opt in and trade" type agreement. If he does indeed take this route, an additional team could be seeking his services.

The New York Knicks could seek a trade for Paul George

According to NBA reporter Marc Stein, the New York Knicks could be a hypothetical partner in a trade for the Clippers' wing (subscription required). "Another trusted source has advised me to keep the Knicks on the list as a potential trade suitor for George if the All-NBA swingman indeed opts into the final season of his current contract at $48.8 million," said Stein. "That step would position George to push for a trade to another team."

This is absolutely something for Clippers fans to keep their eyes on in the coming days. While PG opting in could on the surface appear as a sign of his return, it appears more likely that he is angling toward finding a new home this summer, and doing this would be the first step of his process to achieving that.

At this point, with all the rumors being leaked, it would feel more surprising to see Paul decline to pick up his option for next season. With so many teams around the league forced to be highly cognizant of their financial situations, it would seem to be a better move to trade for a star like George now and figure out the long-term financial details later.