After Kawhi Leonard signed a three-year, $152MM extension with the Clippers on Wednesday, teammate Paul George expressed confidence that he’ll agree sooner or later to a new deal of his own that keeps him in Los Angeles beyond this season, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.
“I mean, absolutely,” George said when he was asked if Leonard’s extension increases the chances of him signing his own contract. “You secure and lock in Kawhi. Definitely leaves the door open for myself, but very, very optimistic something will get done on my behalf, as well.”
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported on Wednesday in the wake of the Leonard news that the Clippers have been motivated to get both forwards locked up to longer-term contracts and that talks with George are ongoing. Asked later in the day about how close he and the Clippers are to finding common ground on an extension, George essentially confirmed Wojnarowski’s report.
“We’re working on it,” he said. “… I’m extremely excited and happy for Kawhi reaching a deal to hopefully make him a Clipper for the rest of his career. We’ll see my situation when we get there, but just happy they got the deal done on his end. I know he wants to stay here, myself as well. When my time comes, we’ll be ready for those conversations as well.”
Like Leonard, George has been affected by various injuries since he joined the Clippers in 2019 and didn’t appear in more than 56 regular season games in any of his first four years with the team. However, he has played in 35 of 37 contests so far this season and is performing at a high level, averaging 23.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1.6 steals in 34.6 minutes per contest, with a shooting line of .464/.414/.918.
George’s current contract situation is identical to the one Leonard was in before agreeing to his extension — he’s earning approximately $45.6MM this season and holds a $48.8MM player option for 2024/25. In order to sign an extension, George would have to decline that option, at which point he would be eligible to receive up to approximately $220MM over four years on his new deal.
Of course, Leonard accepted a three-year deal worth slightly below his maximum salary, and the two Clippers stars have essentially been on matching contracts since teaming up in Los Angeles, so it will be interesting to see if George’s next deal features terms similar to Kawhi’s. Leonard suggested on Wednesday that he feels good about the likelihood of both George and James Harden sticking with the Clippers beyond this season.
“With the conversation that I have with them about it, I think for the most part everybody is coming back,” Leonard said. “So with me signing an extension, I think it gives us a chance to sign both of those players.”
Harden won’t become extension-eligible prior to the expiration of his current contract, but the Clippers will hold his Bird rights this offseason.