Paul George‘s name has surfaced in trade rumors a few times this month, but Clippers president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank told reporters this week that the team intends to continue building its roster around George and Kawhi Leonard, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.
“It’s still the plan,” Frank said. “What we are trying to do is how can we put together the best team around these guys? And we look at the different things, what has worked, what hasn’t worked, the job that we have to do better, the job that we challenge our players to continue to do better. We are trying to maximize these two and figure out ways we can get better.”
There has been some speculation that the trade rumors involving George have popped up because he’ll become extension-eligible this offseason and the Clippers may be reluctant to offer him another maximum-salary deal, given his injury history. The same thinking applies to Leonard, who will also become eligible for an extension. Asked about possible new contracts for the team’s two star forwards, Frank referred to the conversation as “premature.”
“We do talk [about] what the plan is, but we really can’t get into those specifics until the appropriate date and we will have the dialogues like we do,” he said, according to Youngmisuk. “We are very, very honest and [have] open conversations and see if there is something that makes sense for both sides.”
Here’s more on the Clippers:
- Frank made it clear during this week’s press conference that the club wants to re-sign point guard Russell Westbrook, despite only having the ability to offer him a salary of $3.8MM using the Non-Bird exception. “Russ is a free agent and gets to choose,” Frank said, per Youngmisuk. “As he’s shown, he did a phenomenal job during his time with the Clippers. … We want Russ back but also respect the fact that he’s a free agent. But hopefully we can keep him a Clipper.”
- Veteran NBA reporter Howard Beck is treating Frank’s comments about wanting to build around George and Leonard with a grain of salt, suggesting during an appearance on the FnA podcast that the Clippers aren’t “trying to give (George) away,” but that he’s “certainly available” via trade. “Lawrence Frank is going to say what he has to say,” Beck said (hat tip to Bleacher Report). “Team GMs and presidents always say that, ‘No, we love our guys,’ right up until the moment that they trade them. That’s just how this thing goes.”
- Law Murray of The Athletic takes a look at what the Clippers are getting in No. 30 pick Kobe Brown and No. 48 pick Jordan Miller and what lies ahead for the team in free agency. As Murray notes, Los Angeles’ two draft picks reflect the team’s win-now mindset — both Brown and Miller are already 23 years old.