Paul George 'never wanted to leave' Clippers, but says initial offer was disrespectful

Paul George didn’t want to leave Los Angeles. And the Clippers wanted to keep him here for life.

That’s all according to George, who relayed the information while wearing his new Philadelphia 76ers No. 8 jersey.

In Monday’s episode of “Podcast P with Paul George,” the nine-time All-Star revealed details from the failed contract negotiations that led to him leaving the Clippers after five seasons and signing a a four-year, $212-million contract with Philadelphia last week.

He prefaced it all by saying there were “no hard feelings” toward the organization.

“Just to put it out there, I never wanted to leave L.A. Initially, I was not trying to leave L.A.,” said George, who grew up in Palmdale. “L.A. is home. This is where I wanted to finish at. I wanted to work as hard as possible to win one in L.A., like that was the goal, to be here and be committed to L.A.”

George’s most recent contract with the Clippers included a player option for the final year, which would have paid him $48.7 million for the 2024-25 season. Last fall, George said, the Clippers approached him with an extension offer for two years and $60 million, which the veteran player thought was “kind of disrespectful.”

“I’m like, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa. That’s crazy.’” George said. “So I’m like, ‘Naw, I’m not signing that.’”

George said the Clippers’ offer went up “inches, inches, inches” during the early months of last season. Then in January, the team reached an extension agreement with one of its other star players, Kawhi Leonard, for three years and $152.3 million. So, George said, he asked for the same deal.

“I’m like, ‘Just give me what Kawhi got. … I’m not gonna say I want more than ‘Whi. It’s not about me being paid more than him. I’m gonna take what he got. Y’all give him that, give me that.’” George said. “They didn’t wanna do that.”

At that point, George said, he shut down negotiations for the remainder of the season because “it was starting to get into my mood.” Following the Clippers’ loss to the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs, George said, the team offered him a three-year, $150-million deal.

George thought the offer was “in the ballpark,” but he also wanted a no-trade clause. The team refused, George said, so he then asked for a four-year, $212-million deal.

“Like at least pay me my money,” George said. “If y’all gonna trade me, y’all gonna trade me. But at least now I’m not in a situation where I coulda got more had I gone to free agency than just take this deal and y’all can just ship me wherever [you] wanted, and now I’m in this deal that I didn’t want.

“They didn’t want to do that. So now it’s like, now I’m open to entertaining what’s out there.”

On June 29, George informed the Clippers he was opting out of the final year of his contract. George’s agent met with Lawrence Frank, the president of basketball operations, the next day, but no deal was reached. On July 1, George agreed to terms with the 76ers.

“They weren’t gonna budge. I wasn’t gonna budge,” George said of the Clippers. “I thought I played well enough for them to be like, ‘You know what, 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.”

“But,” he added, “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.”

George also said he spoke with Leonard privately to inform him of his intention to leave five years after they joined the team together — Leonard as a free agent and George in a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder. He said Leonard supported his decision.

“I owed Kawhi that conversation,” George said.

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