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    Swanson: Ending 213 Era was the only way forward for Paul George, Clippers
    • July 9, 2024

    Peace out, P.

    It’s officially, officially official now – now that Paul George’s tell-all Podcast P episode dropped with all the juicy details Monday about the demise of the Clippers’ 213 Era, the unfulfilling and unlucky pairing of Southern California stars Kawhi Leonard (No. 2) and George (No. 13).

    To hear the new Philadelphia 76ers wing tell it, the sides started far enough apart last October that by the time they got within shouting distance this offseason, he didn’t feel like yelling across the remaining divide.

    Neither did the Clippers, judging from the offers he said they made, starting with two years for $60 million. “That’s crazy,” George recalled thinking from his perch in the rich and rarefied air occupied by the NBA’s stars.

    PG details how contract negotiations with the Clippers affected his decision to leave LA. pic.twitter.com/PU3Z5gZ94z

    — Podcast P with Paul George (@PodcastPShow) July 8, 2024

    He went on to ask for three years for $150 million – similar to the contract Leonard signed in January – but also he wanted a no-trade clause. Those are rare in the transaction-happy NBA, but it’s an understandable request when you look at it from a player’s perspective: “They’re like we want you here long term … we want you to be a Clipper your whole career. So I’m like, ‘Cool, cool.’ Give me three years, $150 (million), no-trade then … then I’m taking less, but at least I know I’m here.”

    The Clippers didn’t bite, so George said he threw out four years and $220 million as a counter: “If y’all gonna trade me, then y’all gonna trade me. But at least now I’m not in a situation where I could have got more had I just gone to free agency.”

    And so they let him go.

    After they brought him aboard to play with Leonard in a trade that sent out Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and a boatload of first-round draft picks and picks swaps, they let him go for nothing but the optionality, flexibility, possibility.

    Because they realized, correctly, that option was better than running it back.

    The window on a George-Leonard championship was shutting fast. It might have shut already, save for a miracle.

    The Clippers knew that. Their fans knew that. Leonard, 33, and George, 34, had to know it too; PG – the guy negotiating for max-level money – even talked enough about it on his podcast: “I mean, we are old.” And Kawhi didn’t balk when PG called him to tell him he was leaving, just told his pal to go get his payday.

    And so the Palmdale native will earn a total of $211 million across the next four years in Philly – a lot of cheesesteak for a player who played in more than 56 games in a regular season just once as a Clipper and who will be 38 before the contract expires.

    The Sixers talked themselves into believing George can be the missing piece to help the also-oft-injured Joel Embiid and young star guard Tyrese Maxey compete for a ring, the Moses Malone to Julius Irving on the 76ers’ 1983 championship squad, or so Dr. J told PG: “He was like, ‘P, you’re the missing piece.’”

    Maybe.

    More likely, George will enjoy a hot stretch during the regular season and we’ll hear pundits and fans deriding the Clippers’ decision. But then there will come a lull, and it will likely be when the pressure is on and expectations are highest, probably during the playoffs.

    Imagine Philadelphia fanatics’ reaction to a seven-point playoff game like the one George turned in during a first-round loss to the Dallas Mavericks last season. Or another string of games when he’s limited by unfocused foul trouble – followed, of course, by Princess and the P analysis on the podcast about how uncomfortable and hard the job can be when a two-way star is asked to do so much dirty work (ie. rebounding and defending).

    “Yeah, they can be rowdy,” George said of the Sixers’ fans he’s about to meet. “I’ve heard the stories of them getting on their players … but that’s good pressure. That’s pressure you want.”

    We’ll see.

    Just like we’ll see what the Clippers do next. How can they do right by their loyal, less-demanding but long-suffering fan base? How will they, under the new CBA’s constrictive apron rules, fill the 22.6-points-per-game void left by George?

    So far, they’ve added Derrick Jones Jr. and Kevin Porter Jr. and are reportedly working to add Kris Dunn, young, athletic supporting characters who would make for a robust roster around a pair of future Hall of Famers – if Leonard and Harden were entering their prime and not exiting it.

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    As it is, it’s hard to picture this unit, as currently constructed, hosting many playoff games at the new Intuit Dome.

    Maybe they add some offensive firepower yet? Maybe those trade rumors involving them and New Orleans’ Brandon Ingram and Chicago’s Zach LaVine transpire?

    Will they maneuver – as they worked to do several seasons before they called 213 to order – to make another substantial, starry splash by inviting aboard players like Anthony Edwards or inviting Gilgeous-Alexander back when those guys hit free agency – if they do?

    We don’t know, and that’s OK.

    Because when it’s broke, you fix it – and you can’t do it when you’re handcuffed to a fading star.

    ​ Orange County Register 

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