Why did Paul George leave Clippers for 76ers? How free agent decision impacts Joel Embiid, NBA title race & more

The 76ers have made the biggest splash of 2024 free agency.

Philadelphia has agreed to terms with Paul George, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The deal ends a five-year Los Angeles tenure for George, who joined the Clippers in a shocking trade during the 2019 offseason.

With an average of 22.6 points over 74 games, George earned the ninth All-Star selection of his career last season. He now forms an All-Star trio with Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey, who is also in line for a big payday this offseason.

Here is why George is moving on from his LA home to head to the City of Brotherly Love.

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Why did Paul George leave Clippers for 76ers?

George left the Clippers for the 76ers because of Philadelphia’s willingness to offer a four-year maximum deal.

In the lead-up to official negotiations, George reached an impasse with LA because of the franchise’s unwillingness to add a fourth year to his contract, per Yahoo’s Jake Fischer. The 76ers, however, have offered George a four-year deal worth $212 million.

When negotiations between George and the Clippers stalled, the franchise issued a statement explaining what had transpired. “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,” the statement reads.

LA wanted to maintain flexibility within the league’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement and could not per the terms of what George and his representation sought.

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George is 34 and entering his 15th NBA season. The 2024 offseason could be his final chance to receive a payday of this magnitude.

A four-year deal means George will be under contract with Philadelphia through the 2027-28 season.

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Paul George

(Getty Images)

How much better does Paul George make the 76ers?

The 76ers are essentially sliding George into a role occupied by Tobias Harris last season. George, of course, is a very different player on both ends of the floor, but he will share the offensive burden with Embiid and Maxey.

Even though Embiid is 30 and coming off of an injury-riddled season, he will reprise his role as Philadelphia’s go-to guy while Maxey, the NBA’s most recent winner of the Most Improved Player award, is still growing as a player. George could realistically be the Sixers’ third option behind the All-Star duo of Embiid and Maxey.

Having a third option who averaged 22.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists last season makes the 76ers a scary team.

Like with all teams, health will be the biggest contributing factor, but Philadelphia has an all-world coach in Nick Nurse and an All-Star big three, which pushes the team into another tier of contention in the East.

The move to sign George was facilitated by the fact that the 76ers entered the offseason with Embiid’s salary being the only guaranteed money on the books. As Philadelphia continues to build out its roster, rookie Jared McCain could be thrust into a big role.

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With George, the team is now an even more attractive destination for free agents.

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What Paul George’s decision means for Kawhi Leonard, Clippers

LA takes a major hit in an uber-competitive Western Conference and must look to find ways to navigate the salary cap to make roster improvements.

Kawhi Leonard is under contract through the 2026-27 season, and the Clippers re-signed James Harden, who settled into his role and led the team in assists last season.

There are a few ways LA can pivot with George gone. The Clippers could try to strike a deal with the Bulls to acquire one of DeMar DeRozan or Zach LaVine via trade. LA has also been linked to free agent Klay Thompson, who adds shooting and replaces some of the scoring punch it loses with George’s departure.

The Clippers won 51 games in 2023-24 and are entering a new era with a new brand identity and brand-new arena. Los Angeles is still an attractive destination for free agents, giving the Clippers an advantage in negotiations with impact players who could take a veteran’s minimum deal.

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