The Clippers Traded Gilgeous-Alexander to Thunder for George
Over the weekend, the Los Angeles Clippers won the Kawhi Leonard sweepstakes, signing the player to a four-year contract with the team. In addition to signing the two-time NBA Finals MVP, the Clippers brought in Paul George through a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Clippers had to give up a massive treasure trove of assets to land George, however, as they gave up three unprotected first-round picks, one lottery-protected first-round pick, two first-round pick swaps, Danilo Gallinari and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
Oklahoma City got an advance start on their rebuild with the haul of draft picks and pick swaps and could possibly trade Russell Westbrook in order to acquire more assets for the team’s apparent rebuild.
The most notable asset from this haul, in terms of young players, is Gilgeous-Alexander. Gilgeous-Alexander made the NBA’s All-Rookie Team and showed a lot of promise with the Clippers. The trade got us at Old North Banter thinking: What if the Hornets never traded away Gilgeous-Alexander?
Flashback to Draft Night 2018
The Hornets were up to pick at No. 11 and selected Gilgeous-Alexander. While the Hornets could’ve held on the pick, they ultimately traded the pick to the Clippers and selected Miles Bridges from the Michigan State Spartans with the 12th overall pick, receiving two second round picks for their troubles.
Bridges had an up and down during the season and failed to average more than 10 points per game during the year, as opposed to the Gilgeous-Alexander, who made the NBA All-Rookie team and emerged as one of the best point guard prospect to replace Chris Paul in Los Angeles.
Where Would the Hornets Be if They Still Had Gilgeous-Alexander?
The Hornets would more than likely be in a much better place in terms of their rebuild if they had held on to Gilgeous-Alexander.
When the team lost Kemba Walker to the Boston Celtics through free agency, they were essentially left to grab what were essentially scraps with the signing of Terry Rozier. If they had Gilgeous-Alexander already on the roster, they could’ve accelerated the rebuild in a post-Kemba Walker era in Charlotte.
Or if they thought Kemba truly would stay they could’ve shipped him off to a team that would return a haul of assets in return for the prospect.
Or if they felt Kemba was leaving (which he ultimately did), the Hornets could’ve gotten rid of the form UConn Husky before the trade deadline and gotten a treasure trove of assets similar to what the Clippers did in order to acquire George.
Beyond the Hornets, the Paul George trade more than likely would’ve never happened, and in all likelihood, Leonard would’ve never gone to the Clippers, but to the Los Angeles Lakers instead to pair with Anthony Davis and LeBron James to form the third super team this decade.
Regardless of Who Won the Trade, the Hornets Ultimately Lost
The Hornets were the clear cut losers of this trade, as one of the assets they originally drafted would’ve been the clear and obvious replacement for Walker.
In addition to potentially being Kemba Walker’s replacement, the Hornets could’ve used Gilgeous-Alexander to use in a trade package to finally put a piece around Walker to keep him on the team until he retired.
Regardless, the Hornets will now have to continue what will be a long and excruciating rebuild knowing that they could’ve had a future All-Star on the team to replace the one they lost, but ultimately traded him away for an underwhelming rookie and a couple of second-round picks.