Paul George‘s 4 year/$190M extension came as a shock to almost everyone, myself included, especially since that infamous clip of George hitting the side of the backboard continues to circulate social media. But as I thought of the benefits that this deal brings to the Los Angeles Clippers, the biggest bonus that the Clippers gave themselves was a very valuable asset.
Despite all the justified criticism “Playoff P” has received because of his drastic performance during the 2020 NBA Playoffs, George is still a great basketball player. After having shoulder surgery before the 2019-20 season, George put up 21.5 PPG, 5.7 RPG, and 3.9 APG while shooting 41% from beyond the arc.
Before this max extension, George had one guaranteed year left on his deal with a player option for the 2021-22 season. What that deal would have meant for the Clippers is limited leverage. While unlikely, George might have leveraged his potential looming free agency against potential trade suitors during the season. If the Clippers decided moving on from George was in their franchise’s best interest, George could have made sure that some teams would not bother offering a trade package by telling them that he simply would not resign with their team when he became a free agent. George is no stranger to this as he made it clear he wanted to go to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2017; which scared some teams from trading for him and giving the Indiana Pacers a deal that was significantly worse than anticipated at the time.
While the Clippers probably wouldn’t care what team he ended up on if they decided to trade him, George potentially limiting the number of franchises interested would also restrict the amount and quality of packages they would be offered. Instead of a potential bidding war like with Jrue Holiday, the Clippers would have to settle for a deal closer to what the Spurs got for Kawhi Leonard.
The Clips will now have 4 more years to potentially trade George. Instead of having to rush into a deal or even lose George for nothing, they now have the ability to move George for the next 5 seasons. Paul George can help the Clippers receive new talent if needed and provide the Clippers with a chance of competing even if Kawhi Leonard leaves next season.
Photo: Getty Images