Paul George agrees to sign with the 76ers in free agency after 5 years with Clippers

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Ever since the weekend, Paul George had already told his team he was negotiating with another team. First, it was reported that he had held talks to become the next star of the Warriors, but eventually the 76ers emerged as the front-runners to land the veteran. 

One of the first to the scene was ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who assured that the player’s agent Aaron Mintz had shared the news to Clippers president Lawrence Frank on Sunday night. After this, the Los Angeles club announced that George was ready to move on. 

“Paul has informed us that he is signing his next contract with another team,” the club said in a statement. “Paul is a tremendous talent and an elite two-way player. We feel fortunate for the five years we spent with him. Over that span, he went to three All-Star Games, made the most 3-pointers in franchise history and helped lead the team to a place it had never been. His performances in Games 5 and 6 against Utah in 2021 won’t be forgotten by anyone associated with the Clippers.”

The franchise recalled the risk they took when they paired up two stars in LA five years ago. “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. 

According to sources, Paul’s decision to move to Philadelphia comes after what his former organization describes as a “significant” gap in contract negotiations, as the forward was eligible to sign an extension of up to four years and $221 million all last season. 

The Clippers front office even admitted to feeling optimistic to keep George after they agreed to a three-year, $150 million extension with co-star Leonard back in January. However, it seems that both sides were “far apart.”

Now the club has understood that they must take a measured approach to roster construction around the newest collective bargaining agreement. “Heading into this offseason, our roster was constructed [with] three great players 33 and over, two of whom could become free agents,” they said in the statement. “We wanted to retain them on contracts that would allow us, under the constraints of the new CBA, to continue building the team.”

The Clippers are using George’s failed negotiations as an example of how they should focus their future negotiations following the new CBA rules

Considering how the CBA has become to punitive for taxpaying teams like the Clippers, the team said they now have more flexibility after losing Paul and will search for more opportunities to remain a playoff contender alongside Leonard and Harden as they are set to make a new home in the new Intuit Dome in Inglewood.

“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,” the LA team expressed.

Even though they will now enjoy more flexibility when negotiating around tax and salary this summer, the Clippers revealed how badly they will miss their veteran shooting guard, as he will be remembered always by the fanbase and franchise.

“We will miss Paul,” the team assured. “At the same time, we’re excited by the opportunities we’ve now been afforded, including greater flexibility under the new CBA. Kawhi is an all-NBA player and we believe [Ty] Lue is the best coach in the league. We will field a highly competitive team this season, and moving forward, use our organizational advantages to bring top talent to Intuit Dome.”