The Los Angeles Clippers agreed to terms with forward Paul George to extend the All-Star on a max deal of four years and $190 million, Aaron Mintz of CAA Sports told ESPN.
That comes on top of the one year and $35.4 million guaranteed he was already due for this upcoming season, bringing the total contract value to $226 over the next five years, with a player option for George in 2024-2025.
There had been some speculation that George and superstar partner Kawhi Leonard would take a wait and see approach on extensions with the Clippers after their abysmal effort in last season’s playoffs, but it seems that George has decided to jump the gun. This extension for George is by no means an indicator of Leonard’s intentions, however.
While the Clippers didn’t quite match the crosstown rival Lakers in terms of free agent signings and squad improvements during this short offseason, they remain oddsmakers’ favorite to dethrone the Lakers as NBA champions, with the defending champs at the top boasting +275 odds and the Clippers just behind them with +550. Despite giving half the odds, I still believe the Lakers are a far better preseason play here.
George, a native of Palmdale in Southern California, has spoken often in the past about his desire to return to play for a franchise near his hometown, and with this contract, he’s ensured that he will do just that through the prime of his career.
“I owe them a trophy,” George said in reference to the Clippers. “I owe them a trophy. That’s what I owe this organization. This is a window that we’re trying to capture. And my commitment and my job is to try to bring a title here.”
While securing George for the long-term was definitely a big get for the Clippers, it’s not nearly as big as locking up a three-time NBA champion like Leonard for several years, especially after the two players’ respective performances in last year’s playoff debacle. George has said that he hopes his long-term commitment to the Clippers will spur Leonard into similar action.
“He’s one of the guys that I talked to and kind of wanted to inform, ‘Hey, this is a decision I wanted to make. I want to be here long term,'” George said. “It’s not putting a gun to Kawhi and telling him he’s gotta do this or do that. Hopefully it’s a mutual bond, and we both enjoy playing with one another.”
George’s long-term commitment paired with the arrival of Serge Ibaka—who won a championship with Leonard in Toronto and who Leonard clearly shared a close bond with—can’t have hurt the Clippers chances at convincing Kawhi to stay.
Whether Kawhi stays or not, however, the Clippers will need George to get back to his old self. You know, the Paul George that was named to the All-NBA First Team with OKC in 2019 and also led the NBA in steals, All-NBA Third Team four times, and to the All-NBA Defensive First or Second team a combined four times. George simply wasn’t on his game for much of the regular season last year, and once he entered the bubble, forget about it, his quality fell off a cliff.
Fans and pundits let him hear it, using his nicknames, PG and Playoff P, against him throughout the playoffs with puns such as Pandemic P and PG 13% as they questioned not only his basketball skills, but his mental makeup as well. Though he admitted the criticism got to him in the bubble, he’s determined to grow from that experience and shut out the distractions this year.
“It’s not about proving people wrong or answering questions to people that don’t have much value in my life.,” George insisted. “It is more so about me going out there and being reliable to my teammates, to this organization. That is where my focus is. … It’s about me exploding into this season.”
If you believe Playoff P can turn his form all the way around, +550 on the Clippers to go all the way is offering great value right now. I’m just not as convinced that Paul George will bounce back as he is, at least not in a playoff setting.