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If -- and this is a gigantic if -- Paul George elects to pick up his 2024-25 player option with the Los Angeles Clippers and forgo free agency this summer, the New York Knicks could be one of his trade suitors, according to Marc Stein of The Stein Line. In his latest newsletter on Sunday, Stein cites a source advising him to "keep the Knicks on the list" in the event that George opts in and requests a trade.

George is the rare star player who fits anywhere. Even at 34, he can still defend just about anybody and scale his on-ball usage up or down depending on who's next to him. New York is a fascinating landing spot, though, because it made a big trade for a big wing less than six months ago. And because that big wing, OG Anunoby, is about to be a free agent himself.

Could the Knicks re-sign Anunoby and acquire George (and perhaps move Julius Randle in the process)? Could George be a replacement for Anunoby in the event that Anunoby walks? These questions could sound silly if all of these players end up returning to their respective teams, but, with a week before free agency, it's unclear how any of this will shake out. (It's worth noting, though, that New York is still the "strong favorite" to sign Anunoby, per Stein.)

George's player option is worth $48.8 million. According to Stein and ESPN's Brian Windhorst, the Clippers have offered him a deal similar to the three-year, $149.7 extension that Kawhi Leonard signed in January, but George wants more

If George and the Clippers can't work something out, then he could simply leave in free agency. The Philadelphia 76ers, for example, have the cap space to sign him outright. A recent report from The Athletic's Shams Charania, though, indicated that the Sixers' interest in George had "significantly waned." If George has his eye on other possible destinations, though, he'll all but certainly need a trade.

"If Paul George changes teams, it's very likely going to be a situation where he opts into his contract and requests a trade," Windhorst said on ESPN's "Get Up" on Friday.  

From George's perspective, the opt-in-and-request-a-trade option has one obvious benefit: It allows him, in theory at least, to get the kind of contract he wants from a much larger pool of teams. The downside, though, is that the Clippers, a win-now team, would have to facilitate the deal with another win-now team. That's a tricky proposition. If George elects to pick up the option, he could find himself in the same position that James Harden, his current teammate, was in last offseason. Harden eventually got what he wanted, but the drama dragged into the regular season.

Despite all of the noise around George, The Stein Line reported that the prevailing wisdom hasn't changed: He would prefer to stay with his hometown Clippers, if they can figure out the finances. There is also reportedly "a healthy bit of skepticism" around the league about the Sixers' reported change of plans. 

Knicks have talked to Wizards, others about Robinson 

The Knicks have spoken to several teams, including the Washington Wizards, about potential trades involving center Mitchell Robinson, SNY's Ian Begley reported on Sunday. Robinson, 26, is one of the best rebounders in the NBA and, before suffering a stress fracture in his left ankle in December, he was playing the best defense of his career.

New York is not necessarily shopping Robinson, though. On Saturday, SNY reported that Leon Rose's front office is gauging the market as it approaches an offseason that could see its payroll increase significantly. Isaiah Hartenstein, the center who broke out after Robinson's injury, is about to hit free agency, and the Knicks would like to re-sign both him and Anunoby. They can offer Hartenstein a four-year deal worth $72.5 million, using their Early Bird rights. Anunoby will cost much more than that. If Hartenstein, Anunoby and Bojan Bogdanovic (who has a $19 million team option) all return, New York could be well over the luxury tax.

Robinson played in only 31 regular-season games this past season, but, even for executives worried about his ankle, which required another surgery in May, his contract -- $14.3 million next season, $13 million in 2025-26 -- is a bargain. The Wizards' reported interest makes sense, given that they ranked 28th defensively and dead last in both offensive and rebounding percentage last season. It's fair to wonder, though, if their selection with the No. 2 pick in the upcoming NBA draft will affect this potential pursuit. For example, if they draft big man Alex Sarr, would Robinson remain a target?

Hartenstein might find more money than the Knicks can offer him on the open market. He could choose to re-sign anyway, though, and the team reportedly wants him back. As New York's 2023-24 season illustrated, there is value in having two starting-caliber centers on the roster -- you get injury insurance, and you get a two-headed monster when they're both healthy. If Hartenstein re-signs, the Knicks will have to weigh that against their trade options involving Robinson. Even if the two centers (who are friends!) are willing to split the minutes, the front office could decide that bringing them both back is not its best use of resources.

Could CP3 return to Los Angeles? If so, which team?

Chris Paul is owed $30 million next season, but none of it is guaranteed. If the Golden State Warriors waive him before Friday, his contract will be simply wiped off their books and he will become a free agent.

Should the Warriors waive Paul, the 39-year-old could return to Los Angeles. That's where his family lives, and both the Clippers and Lakers are interested in signing him, according to The Stein Line. There "might not be unanimous" support for this idea within the Lakers organization, however. 

Both The Stein Line and The Athletic's Anthony Slater reported that Golden State has been trying to trade Paul. He could be a part of a trade for a difference-making player, and, if moved before his contract is guaranteed, could allow the team on the other end of the deal to clear significant cap space immediately. Both outlets reported that the Warriors and Paul have talked about pushing back the guarantee date. This would give Golden State more time to complete a trade if it can't do so before the draft, but, in order for this to make sense for Paul, he'd have to believe he might not lose the $30 million.