Paul George free agency rumors: 76ers become front-runners as Clippers refuse to change offer

Paul George is by far the biggest name on the NBA’s 2024 free-agent market, and while he hasn’t officially announced a decision, it looks like one team is clearly in pole position. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, George’s agent, Aaron Mintz of CAA, spoke with the Clippers and neither side budged on their contract demands. Both sides then acknowledged that a return was unlikely, and now, the Philadelphia 76ers are the strong front-runners for his services. 

The Clippers, then, released a statement that confirmed George is moving on.

“Paul has informed us that he is signing his next contract with another team,” the Clippers said. “Paul is a tremendous talent and an elite two-way player. …We negotiated for months 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.”

George, who opted out of his contract with the Clippers on Saturday, was expected to meet with the 76ers, the Clippers and the Orlando Magic before making up his mind. However, the Magic used a significant chunk of their cap space to sign Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. They can still create the room needed to sign George if they want to by waiving the non-guaranteed Jonathan Isaac and trading Jett Howard, but at this stage, there is no indication that they plan to do so. 

In January, the Clippers signed Kawhi Leonard to a three-year, $153 million contract. That deal has reportedly been the baseline for the Clippers in George negotiations, and thus far, they are not believed to be willing to offer a four-year deal. George is reportedly seeking a four-year deal, and as he is now 34 years old, this will likely be his final chance to cash in as a free agent during his career. Philadelphia and Orlando are both capable of offering a four-year, $212 million max contract to George, and both teams are reportedly willing to do so.

George’s fit in Philadelphia would be obvious. The 76ers have a star point guard in Tyrese Maxey and a star center in Joel Embiid. George, a small forward, slots neatly between the two of them. The 76ers would have leftover cap space to offer to another starter in free agency, with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope a popularly rumored name. They would also have the cap room mid-level exception to use on other free agents. Many of their own free agents are older players like Kyle Lowry who may be willing to return for minimum-salary deals.

George joined the Clippers originally in 2019, when they traded Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and a historic package of draft picks to the Oklahoma City Thunder to pair him with Kawhi Leonard. That duo never quite had a traditional, healthy playoff run. The team was among the championship favorites in 2020, but blew a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets in the Orlando bubble. Leonard was injured for the final game of the next four Clipper seasons, and now, George may be on the verge of trying to win that elusive championship elsewhere.

There is still time for another team to change George’s mind. Orlando has a younger roster than both of these teams and has the built-in advantage of playing in a state without income taxes. A mystery team could also potentially jump into the fray. For now, though, it looks like the 76ers are in front, and it’s looking increasingly unlikely that anyone is going to prevent him from moving to Philadelphia.

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top