LOS ANGELES (AP) — Paul George wants to retire with the Los Angeles Clippers, and he took a step in that direction by signing a multiyear contract extension Thursday.
The six-time All-Star could have become a free agent after the upcoming season. Instead, the team locked down his services, ensuring George will remain not far from where he grew up in Palmdale.
“This is a childhood dream being fulfilled. It’s just priceless, regardless of what this deal was for,” he said on a video call. “Being in front of my family and my friends and leaving my mark on a place I grew up.”
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but ESPN reported George’s contract was extended for an additional four years at $190 million, in addition to the $35.4 million guaranteed him for the 2020-21 season. George’s player option for the 2021-22 season will be replaced with the four-year extension, which includes a new player option for the 2024-25 season.
George averaged 21.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.9 assists and shot a career-high 41% from 3-point range in his first season with the Clippers. It ended it disappointment, however, with the team blowing a 3-1 lead against Denver and losing in the second round of the playoffs.
The early exit, George said, only served to motivate him for the season that begins Dec. 22, when he and Kawhi Leonard will be playing for new coach Tyronn Lue.
“I owe them a trophy. That’s what I owe the organization,” George said. “My commitment and job is to try to bring a title here.”
George’s acquisition from Oklahoma City in July 2019 paved the way for Leonard to join the team as a free agent, giving the Clippers a pair of star players to build around in pursuit of the franchise’s first NBA championship.
George’s extension is “a really significant moment” for the franchise, said Lawrence Frank, president of basketball operations.
“It’s one thing to acquire a great player like Paul, it’s another to retain him,” he said. “We also believe the best is yet to come, both for Paul and the team.”
The Clippers next will turn their attention to re-signing Leonard, who could become a free agent after the upcoming season. George was eligible for a contract extension; Leonard is not.
“What I would love is to play with him for the rest of my contract or the rest of his contract. I guess I got to work on that when it comes down to his time,” said George, who spoke to Leonard before signing his extension. “Hopefully, it’s a mutual bond. We both enjoy playing with one another. Hopefully me showing my commitment sticks out.”
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