NBA

Paul George leaving Clippers, likely for 76ers

By Sports Desk June 30, 2024

Paul George has informed the Los Angeles Clippers he will be joining another team, with the Philadelphia 76ers reportedly the leading candidate to land the coveted free agent.

The Clippers released a statement Sunday saying they were informed by George and his representatives of his plans to leave the team after five seasons. The nine-time All-Star declined a $48.7 million player option for the 2024-25 season on Saturday.

According to The Athletic, George will meet with the 76ers on Sunday night and is expected to make a decision shortly thereafter, with no other teams believed to be involved in the bidding for the veteran forward.

“Paul has informed us that he is signing his next contract with another team,” the Clippers announced. "Paul is a tremendous talent and an elite two-way player. We feel fortunate for the five years we spent with him.

We negotiated for months with Paul and his representative on a contract that would make sense for both sides, and we were left far apart. The gap was significant. We understand and respect Paul’s decision to look elsewhere for his next contract. We explored an opt-in and trade scenario, but it would have left us in a similar position under the new CBA, with very little asset value to justify the restrictions.

“We will miss Paul. At the same time, we’re excited by the opportunities we’ve now been afforded, including greater flexibility under the new CBA.

ESPN reports George was seeking a four-year extension and the Clippers were unwilling to budge beyond a contract similar to the three-year, $152 million deal the team awarded to fellow star Kawhi Leonard in January.

The Clippers acquired George from Oklahoma City in July 2019 by orchestrating a blockbuster trade in which they gave the Thunder five first-round picks as well as future All-Star Shai GIlgeous-Alexander. Leonard signed with Los Angeles that same summer to help turn the Clippers into one of the Western Conference's more consistently successful teams, though their winning ways often did not extend to the post-season.

Los Angeles reached the West finals during the 2021 play-offs but was ousted in six games by the Phoenix Suns, and the Clippers have not advanced past the first round in any of the last three seasons.

George often battled injuries - his 74 games played this past season were his most in any of his five seasons in Los Angeles - but maintained an elite level of play when healthy. The 34-year-old averaged 23 points, six rebounds and 4.5 assists per game during his tenure with the Clippers while shooting just under 40 per cent from 3-point range.

Armed with ample cap space, the 76ers are well positioned to make a big splash this off-season and potentially pair George with two other All-Stars, 2022-23 NBA MVP Joel Embiid and sharpshooter Tyrese Maxey, in an effort to challenge reigning NBA champion Boston in the Eastern Conference.

Philadelphia has also found post-season success to be elusive in recent seasons, as the 76ers have reached the play-offs in seven straight years but have failed to advance beyond the second round during that period.

 

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