Lun. May 27th, 2024

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DALLAS — After losing in the first round with Kawhi Leonard injured for the second straight postseason, the LA Clippers head into the offseason with uncertainty surrounding the futures of Paul George and James Harden.

George has a player option for next season worth $48.8 million and can become a free agent if he and the Clippers are unable to agree on an extension prior to June 30. Harden will be an unrestricted free agent and may wait to see what happens with George first before figuring out his future with the Clippers.

Following the Clippers’ 114-101 loss in Game 6 at Dallas, George was asked if he sees himself with the Clippers long term alongside Leonard and Harden.

«Yeah,» George said. «If it works that way, absolutely.»

After the Clippers’ season came to an end, George and Harden said they haven’t really thought about their contracts yet.

«I don’t even know,» said Harden, who finished with 16 points, 13 assists and 7 rebounds but missed all six of his 3-point attempts on Friday. «You are asking a lot of questions that I don’t have the answer to or haven’t even thought about.»

The Clippers have a busy offseason ahead of them as far as trying to keep this team intact. The franchise is planning to pursue a contract extension with Ty Lue to avoid having the head coach enter the final year of his deal in 2025-26, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Friday.

And then there’s George and Harden. Leonard signed a three-year, $153-million extension in January. With the Clippers likely to exceed $200 million in payroll next season, they will be restricted in how they can improve the team due to the second apron.

Should George become a free agent, there could be multiple suitors for the 34-year-old.

George played 74 regular-season games this season, the most he’s played by far in his five seasons with the Clippers. The All-Star averaged 22.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and a career-high 41.3% from 3.

After trading for Harden in late October, the Clippers eventually took off and went on a 26-5 tear in the middle of the season to reach the top of the Western Conference standings in early February.

But the team sputtered after that due to injuries and inconsistency. Leonard missed the final eight games of the regular season and Game 1 of the first round with inflammation in his surgically-repaired right knee. He played in Games 2 and 3 before the team held him out after he didn’t look like his normal self in Game 3.

George, who finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds but shot 2-for-10 from 3-point range in Game 6, said he will talk about his future with his family and loved ones soon.

«I’m not even focused on that yet,» George said of his future. «I got a lot to kind of digest myself, so I haven’t even got to that yet. Look forward to kind of going back, just letting everything kind of decompress, talk to my family, be around family support and then address the next step… Yeah, it’s just not where I’m there. I’m not there yet.»

ESPN’s Bobby Marks contributed to this story.



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