Report: Paul George Traded to Clippers for Danilo Gallinari, 5 1st-Round Picks

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJuly 6, 2019

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George (13) questions a call during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday, March 27, 2019, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Rob Ferguson)
Rob Ferguson/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Clippers reportedly reached an agreement Saturday to acquire All-Star forward Paul George from the Oklahoma City Thunder for forward Danilo Gallinari, guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and a massive haul of draft picks, including five first-round selections.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported details of the blockbuster deal, which came in coordination with the Clippers' signing of superstar free agent Kawhi Leonard.

The Clips felt pressure to keep Leonard from signing with the crosstown-rival Los Angeles Lakers to join LeBron James and Anthony Davis, so they pushed to acquire George after Kawhi expressed interest in teaming with the MVP candidate, per Woj.

Meanwhile, OKC's haul of draft assets includes L.A.'s unprotected first-round picks in 2022, 2024 and 2026, along with 2021 (unprotected) and 2023 (protected) first-round selections via the Miami Heat and the option to swap picks with the Thunder in 2023 and 2025, according to the ESPN report.

Leonard kept his free-agent decision close to the vest amid interest from the Lakers and Clippers along with the Toronto Raptors' efforts to re-sign him.

The Clips' ability to land George in a trade, albeit at a high future cost, sealed the deal.

George was a runner-up in voting for MVP following the 2018-19 season, with the Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo taking home the league's top individual honor.

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The pair of headline acquisitions made the Clippers the new favorites to capture the 2020 NBA championship with 3-1 odds, per Matt Moore of the Action Network. They're followed by the Lakers and Bucks (both 6-1) and the Philadelphia 76ers (8-1).

Thunder general manager Sam Presti said in June that George was expected to miss most of the preseason while recovering from a pair of shoulder surgeries, but there were no long-term concerns.

"He's doing well," Presti said. "He's going to make a full recovery."

The Clippers will surely give him as much time as he needs to recover given their title aspirations, especially since they still feature solid depth, with most of the trade assets being future draft picks.

All told, acquiring George was the Clippers' path to getting Leonard, and they didn't let the opportunity slip away. Now it becomes championship or bust as the title window is wide-open starting next season.