2024 Free Agency

Paul George signs 4-year max contract with 76ers

Days after the Clippers announced Paul George would be leaving the team, the 76ers confirm he is headed to Philadelphia.

Chris Haynes breaks down why Paul George and the Clippers couldn't reach a new deal in free agency.

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Hours after the Los Angeles Clippers announced Paul George would be leaving the team, reports surfaced early Monday morning that the nine-time All-Star had agreed to a four-year, $212 million contract with the Philadelphia 76ers, and it was confirmed late Saturday night.

George joins new All-Star teammates Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey, forming Philadelphia’s best chance at advancing beyond the Eastern Conference semifinals for the first time since 2001.

With George joining 2023 Kia MVP Joel Embiid and All-Star guard Tyrese Maxey, the 76ers will boast one of the most formidable trios in the league as they try and put together a nucleus that can compete with NBA champion Boston Celtics.

George’s LA departure: George picked Philadelphia after he spurned the Clippers and declined a player option in his contract for $48.8 million in 2024-2025, ending five years with the team where he averaged at least 21.5 points each season.

After several rounds of negotiations, Los Angeles elected to move on in a different direction to maintain some flexibility under the new team-building restrictions of the collective bargaining agreement.

“Paul has informed us that he is signing his next contract with another team,” the Clippers said in a release Sunday night.

The team added, “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.”

George had a $48.8 million option for this coming season but did not exercise it, entering free agency — which opened Sunday night — instead. It was believed there was a chance that George and the Clippers could have still gotten something done, but the team made clear that those hopes are gone.

“We will miss Paul,” the Clippers said.

George arrived in tandem with Kawhi Leonard during the league-altering summer of 2019. The duo peaked with a run to the Western Conference Finals in 2021, but missed the playoffs the following season and were eliminated in the first round twice after that.

Meanwhile, James Harden is staying with the Clippers on a two-year contract that includes a player option, a person with knowledge of that decision told The Associated Press earlier Sunday.

Harden’s deal — which could be worth up to $70 million if he opts into 2025-26 — was agreed upon in principle before free agency technically started, said the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither Harden nor the Clippers had announced the agreement.

Harden, a 10-time NBA All-Star, averaged 16.6 points and 8.5 assists last season for the Clippers, who will move into their new Intuit Dome home when the 2024-25 season starts.

Impact on 76ers: The 34-year-old George joins a Sixers team that has been a perennial underachiever, even as Embiid blossomed into one of the top players in the NBA. They have not won an NBA title since 1983 or even advanced out of the semifinals of the Eastern Conference since 2001.

Philadelphia has hardly stood pat in the offseason as it added Andre Drummond. Hours after George and the 76ers reached their pact, the team and Maxey agreed to a five-year, $204 million contract extension.

The Sixers strengthened their roster with Eric Gordon and Kelly Oubre Jr. in more deals to flesh out the roster. The 76ers are also high on first-round draft pick Jared McCain out of Duke. And George is an upgrade in talent over the departed – and much-maligned – Tobias Harris.

George is a six-time member of the All-NBA Team. He’s a four-time member of the NBA All-Defensive Team and was Kia Most Improved Player in 2013. He was a finalist for both Kia MVP and Kia Defensive Player of the Year in 2019, when he led the league with 2.21 steals per contest. George also has never played in an NBA Finals.

Embiid, set to play this summer for Team USA at the Paris Olympics, fueled rumors George was headed to Philadelphia during a TV appearance together during the NBA Finals.

“Hopefully this offseason, we find a way to get better, and you know,” Embiid said, pausing to side-eye George, “add some pieces.”

Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer breaks down how the 76ers' reported deal with Paul George impacts the team.

The 76ers have failed to find the right pieces to field a winner around Embiid, failing with Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler, Harden and more. Team president Daryl Morey had prepared for this opportunity for years, constructing a roster with essentially all expired contracts at the end of this past season. Embiid and Maxey are the lone key holdovers on a team that lost to the New York Knicks in the first round of the East playoffs.

Much like Embiid, George’s injury history should give the 76ers reason for some concern. George played 76 games last season, the first time he played more than 56 since 2018-19.

Still, with few available options, and roughly $65 million in salary cap space, the 76ers had little choice but to chase an aging — yet, still elite — star such as George.

“We’re planning on being the best team in the East next season,” Morey said during the NBA Draft.

George at least keeps them in the mix in the East.

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.