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Jun 30, 2024 8:57 pm

Paul George leaving Clippers after talks fall through

paul george kawhi

The Los Angeles Clippers announced Sunday night that Paul George is leaving the team in free agency.

George’s decision was not a surprise after reports emerged Saturday that he had opted out of his contract with Los Angeles, which would have paid him $48.8 million next season. The Athletic reported Saturday night that George planned to speak with the Philadelphia 76ers, Orlando Magic and Clippers when free agency opened.

Calling George “a tremendous talent and an elite two-way player,” the Clippers commented on his decision in a team statement Sunday, saying there was a “significant” gap in talks between the two sides.

“We traded a lot to pair Paul and Kawhi (Leonard), and in exchange, we had five seasons of contention. Even though we fell short of our ultimate objective, we appreciate the chances we had with Paul,” the statement read.

“Heading into this offseason, our roster was constructed (with) three great players 33 and over, two of whom could become free agents. We wanted to retain them on contracts that would allow us, under the constraints of the new CBA, to continue building the team.

“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.”

George is the biggest NBA star to hit free agency this summer other than LeBron James, who is expected to return to the Los Angeles Lakers on a new deal after opting out this weekend.

The 34-year-old George is a nine-time All-Star, including three times (2021, 2023 and 2024) during his five-year stay with the Clippers. In 2023-24, he averaged 22.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists while shooting a career-high 41.3 percent from 3-point range in 74 games (all starts).

In 867 career games (819 starts) with the Indiana Pacers, Oklahoma City Thunder and Clippers, George has averaged 20.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.7 steals per game.

He was injury-prone for much of his time with the Clippers. George played 48, 54, 31 and 56 games in his first four seasons with the team.

As for Los Angeles, which reached one Western Conference Finals in five seasons with Leonard and George together, the team’s statement said it “will miss Paul” while promising to “field a highly competitive team this season, and moving forward.”

–Field Level Media

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