Kawhi Leonard Wasn’t Surprised Paul George Left Clippers, Tyronn Lue ‘Disappointed’

Kawhi Leonard told NBA reporters at Team USA training camp that he wasn’t surprised Paul George left the Los Angeles Clippers for the Philadelphia 76ers. 

NBA, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Clippers, Tyronn Lue
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George signed a four-year, $212 million contract with the Sixers after negotiations with the Clippers failed. 

“We knew what it was before the season,” Leonard said, via ESPN. “We knew what it was going to come down to. So, we talked the whole way through. It’s no surprise.”

The Clippers signed Leonard to a three-year, $153 million extension in January. On his podcast, George said LAC offered him a three-year, $150 million contract.

When George countered by asking for a no-trade clause in the deal, the Clippers declined.

George requested a four-year contract worth $212 million without the no-trade clause, but the Clippers weren’t interested.

LAC head coach Tyronn Lue, an assistant with Team USA, told ESPN he was “disappointed” George left for the Sixers. 

“You lose an important piece to the team like PG, it’s hard to replace,” Lue told ESPN. “I’m disappointed that we weren’t able to get the deal done, disappointed he didn’t come back. It’s tough for the organization. We got to see how we move forward from here. I talked to him many times, trying to see what his mindset was, what we need to do different, how we can help his process along. It’s unfortunate that he left.”

George averaged 22.6 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.5 steals and 0.5 blocks for the Clippers in 2023-24 while shooting 47.1% from the field, 41.3% from beyond the arc and 90.7% from the free-throw line.

The Clippers lost to the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the 2024 NBA playoffs in six games.

Leonard and George became teammates on the Clippers in 2019. LAC never reached the NBA Finals. 

“I owed Kawhi that conversation,” George said on his podcast. “I called him up and was just like, man, listen, I think I’m going to go elsewhere. Conversations with the Clippers didn’t go how I wanted to. I kind of broke down how I told you guys how it all played out and we had that conversation and I was like, man, I got to do what’s best. He understood like ‘Go get your bag like P, go get your back. I can’t even be mad at you.’ I look at Kawhi as one of my best friends in this league. Somebody that I fuck with. Our families love each other. So it was tough to leave him just with how much I enjoyed being out there with him. That was one of a big decision too that weighed a lot on me was just, damn, I’m leaving my boy. But I had to have that conversation with him. We talked and he gave me his blessings of like, man, just go do what’s best for you.”

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