Paul George Explains Decision To Leave Clippers

Paul George said in a his latest podcast (Twitter video link) that he “never wanted to leave L.A.,” but he was frustrated by negotiations with the Clippers, including an initial offer that he viewed as “kinda disrespectful.”

Wearing his new Sixers jersey, George explained that his preference was to re-sign with the Clippers and try to help them win their first-ever title. He emphasized that there are “no hard feelings” toward the organization, but said the first offer he received when contract talks started in October was $60MM over two years, which he called “crazy.”

“As we kept going, they would go up inches, inches, inches, to where it was like 44, 45,” George said, “but this was like a couple months in between before we got it to 40-something. I’m still like, ‘Nah, I’m not doing that. Then I hear wind of what they’re going to give Kawhi (Leonard). So I’m like ‘Just give me what Kawhi got. Y’all view us the same. We came here together. … I’ll take what Kawhi got.’ I was cool with that.”

George noted that Leonard accepted less than the max when he agreed to a three-year, $152.4MM extension in January, adding that he was willing to do the same to keep the core of the team together. George’s negotiations remained unproductive until he halted talks around the All-Star break because he didn’t want the new contract to be a distraction for the rest of the season.

“Season ends, I finish healthy, 74 games played and had one of my most efficient seasons,” George said. “So now we go into negotiations, now they bring it to three years, $150MM. It sucks that we had to get to this point, that we couldn’t get this figured out a lot sooner. I’m like all right, now we’re in the ballpark. Now we can have a conversation here.”

George said he was willing to accept that offer as long as the Clippers included a no-trade clause to make sure he got to stay in Southern California. When the team refused, he increased his asking price to four years at $212MM.

“If y’all going to trade me, y’all going to trade me,” he said. “But at least now I’m not in a situation where I could have got more had I just gone to free agency than take this deal and y’all can just ship me wherever (you) want. Now I’m on this deal that I didn’t want. They didn’t want to do that.”

George said that’s when he became open to exploring offers from other teams. That led him to schedule free agency meetings with the Sixers and Magic and ultimately accept a four-year max offer from Philadelphia.

“Through negotiations, they weren’t budging, they weren’t going to budge,” George said of Clippers management. “I wasn’t going to budge. I thought I played well enough for them to, you know, be like ‘He’s a part of our future.’ I thought I did that. I thought I earned that. Granted we didn’t win while I was there, but luck has a lot to do with that. We couldn’t remain healthy as a unit. But I thought I did enough to earn that. 

“… I love (Clippers owner Steve Ballmer). I love (team president Lawrence Frank), but at that point it didn’t even feel right to come back with that type of energy and be comfortable playing back in L.A.”

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