Having enjoyed one of the best regular seasons in franchise history, there was notable excitement around the Los Angeles Clippers in 2020. However, the COVID-19 brought a sharp end to the regular season, bringing about the ‘bubble’ environment held in Florida. This produced a lot of positive moments for many franchises, yet one team that wilted in the closed stadia of Florida was the Clippers. As such, talks of a classic Clippers blow-up-and-start-again experience began to circulate. The biggest rumour, though, involved an exit for Paul George.
That, though, will no longer be happening, as Paul George has agreed to a five year maximum contract. The 5-year deal could see the American earn a whopping $226m in the next five years. For Clippers fans, though, it means that the team might be seen as a potential Championship destination for the next few years at least. With George tied up, it might also lead to more players choosing to stick around and see what the organisation can offer in the post-Doc Rivers era.
Paul George: The long-term solution in LA?
Having enjoyed a positive season last year, George could have walked away with a free agency deal in 2021 if he had so chosen. However, it would have mean declining a massive $37.9m deal; one of the largest in the NBA. As such, it would have been a shock to see the veteran move on from a team that, whilst underperforming in the play-offs in the 2019-20 season, looks primed to contend further in the years to come.
The wing looks set to land a massive max contract extension, which would see him tied into the organisation until 2024. A player option would also be included for 2025, meaning that we could see George as part of the team for years to come. In what has been a rocky and awkward summer for Clippers fans, this must surely come as good news that, for the time being, the first-team will be staying together.
Despite rumours of disputes between George and alter-star Kawhi Leonard, it looks like both players will be sticking around as part of the team formerly known as ‘Lob City’ for the time being. The organisation has, after all, changed coaches since the 2020 blow-up, when the Lakers became one of the few teams in NBA play-off history to blow a 3-1 playoff series lead to eventually bow out to the Denver Nuggets.
A statement of intent from the Clippers?
Having faced many questions about just where the team would go from here, this seems to answer any challenges emphatically. While some post-season moves and trades have been questioned so far, it would likely be seen as unanimously positive that both Leonard and now George will be sticking around. Dubbed one of the “premier two-way players in the NBA” by Lawrence Frank, Clippers President, there is clearly a good feeling about the decision on the interior.
For fans, too, the decision has mostly been met with approval. Though his debut season had various pros and cons, few fans would argue that George was a player worth moving on from just yet. 21.5 points per game is a strong average, and a rebound average of 5.7pg also put George in a healthy competitive position. Add that to a career-long body of work that has pushed George into the elite guards in the league, and it would be hard to say that the Clippers have done anything other than succeed here.
Despite having more productive seasons in the past, including a 28ppg season with the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2018-19, George has genuine star potential. For an organisation that is fighting to establish a clear identity to help keep progressing forward, this has been an essential move for an organization that is serious about growth, development, and improvement in the long-term.
With a star secured for today, it might also help the Clippers to further secure the future of both present peak talent and young players within the roster.
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