Paul George Says He Left the Clippers Because They Refused to Match Kawhi Leonard's Deal

George made it clear that he wanted to finish his career at the Clippers.

Paul George dribbles a basketball during an LA Clippers game, wearing his team uniform. A crowded arena and other players are seen in the background
Glenn James via Getty Images
Paul George dribbles a basketball during an LA Clippers game, wearing his team uniform. A crowded arena and other players are seen in the background

On the latest episode of his podcast, Paul George opened up about his decision to move on from the Los Angeles Clippers and said it came down to the franchise's refusal to match the contract of Kawhi Leonard.

"Just to put it out there, I never wanted to leave LA," he said around the 29-minute mark of the latest episode of Podcast P with Paul George. "LA is home, this is where I wanted to finish at, and I wanted to work as hard as possible to win one in LA. That was the goal, to be here and be committed to LA. As it played out though, the first initial deal was, I thought, kind of disrespectful."

He said there's "no hard feelings" or "love lost" over the first deal he was offered by the Clippers while in free agency because, ultimately, it's all about business.

"So the first initial deal was, like, two years, 60 [million dollars]," he said. "So I'm like, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. 'Two years, 60? I'm not signing that.'" The franchise told him that they wanted both him and Kawhi on the team for the long term, and they continued to offer him incremental increases to the offer until it was around $40 million per year. Negotiations got serious after he heard how much Leonard was getting: $153 million over three years.

"I'm like, 'Just give me what Kawhi got. Y'all view us the same. We came here together, we want to finish this shit together,'" he continued. "I'll take what Kawhi got, I was cool with that and we were still taking less. Kawhi got less, so if Kawhi takes less, I'm not going to. It's not about me being paid more than him. I'm going to take what he got. ... They didn't want to do that."

As the most recent NBA season wrapped up, he went back into negotiations with the Clippers and they offered him $150 million over three years, very close to what they agreed to give to Kawhi Leonard. However, they decided against going forward with the deal because he wanted to make sure there was a no-trade clause in the agreement.

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"They didn't want to do the no trade [clause]," he said. "Then I'm like, 'All right, well then it only makes sense for me to do four years, 212 [million.] At least pay me my money. If y'all going to trade me, y'all going to trade me, but at least now I'm not in a situation where I could have got more, had I just gone a free agency, then just take this deal where y'all could ship me wherever I want. They didn't want to do that."

It was after those negotiations fell apart that he decided to entertain offers from other teams. "It was a stalemate," he said. "I love Steve [Ballmer], I love 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 LA … Steve is a good dude. I love Steve as an owner, one of the best owners that I played for, but it's a business. I won't take nobody's word if they can't put it in writing, right?"

George signed with the Philadelphia 76ers this month and will make his debut with the team at the start of the 24-25 season.

Check out what Paul George had to say above.

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