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Los Angeles Clippers Expected To Make Strong Bids To Keep Two Of Their Stars

The Los Angeles Clippers season once again ended in disappointment, as they fell to the Dallas Mavericks in six games in the opening round. This marks the third straight year that the Clippers have failed to advance past the first round of the playoffs.

Still, according to The Athletic’s Law Murphy and Sam Amick, Los Angeles is expected to make a strong push to keep its core together by re-signing Paul George and James Harden. George has a player option, and Harden will be an unrestricted free agent.

Even with the Clippers’ latest disappointing finish — a second consecutive first-round flop that followed their playoff absence back in 2022 — they are expected to make strong efforts to re-sign both Paul George and James Harden. The thinking, team sources say, is that a team built around the oft-injured [Kawhi] Leonard simply must have as much elite talent as possible as a way of mitigating the seemingly inevitable injuries that have come to define this Clippers era.

Los Angeles Clippers Expected To Make Strong Bids To Keep Two Of Their Stars

LA went 51-31 this past season, capturing their first Pacific Division title since 2013-14. George and Leonard played their most games since teaming up. Of course, the Clippers also got Harden early in the season. However, Leonard was limited to 59 minutes in two playoff appearances, both losses for the Clippers, as he posted a -12 plus/minus.

Los Angeles has posted a winning season in each of the last four seasons and 11 consecutive overall. The Clippers’ 51 victories this past season were their most since 2016-17.

The Clippers were 42-22 with George and Leonard playing this year and are 124-57 when the pair plays together. While the duo’s 68.5% regular season winning percentage is impressive, the Clippers have won only three of their seven playoff series since Leonard and George joined forces. Leonard has played in just four of 19 the Clippers playoff games since tearing his ACL in the semifinals of the 2021 West semis.

Clippers Roster and Salary Cap Situation Heading Into The Summer

Leonard signed a three-year,$154.2 million extension in January; the 32-year-old is signed through 2027. The Clippers, who are moving into the $2 billion Intuit Dome next season, are also in the process of extending coach Ty Lue’s contract, per ESPN’s Adrain Wojnarowski.

While it was thought that Lue would be a candidate for the Los Angeles Lakers job following Darvin Ham’s firing, Wojnarowski downplayed that idea when appearing on NBA Today with Malika Andrews on Friday.

I don’t believe it’s realistic based on this: Ty Lue still has a year left on his contract. And the Clippers are determined to do a long-term deal with Ty Lue, I’m told. They want him to be their head coach for a very long time. That’s a conversation that will happen after the playoffs are over, but they love the job he did this season. They love the job that he’s done there.

Lue spoke about his contract situation following the Clippers being eliminated by the Mavericks last night. Lue has one year left on his deal.

“I hope so. I didn’t come here to bounce around and go all over the place,” Lue said when asked whether he expected to be with the Clippers long-term. “Mr. [Steve] Ballmer showed me a lot of different things that I wouldn’t be privy to if I wasn’t here. Lawrence [Frank], being an ex-coach who actually knows the game, who actually can talk basketball — offense and defense and understand the game — so that’s really good for me as well. Trent Redden, who I’ve been with — I was in Cleveland, I won a championship with — so we have a great relationship. And Mark Hughes, he actually coached me when I was in Orlando when he was with Doc [Rivers]. So just having a great relationship with the owner, the front office, it’s great, so I would love to be here long-term.”


Los Angeles has 11 players under contract for next season, with salaries totaling over $168.9 million. However, George ($48.9 million), P.J. Tucker ($11.5 million), and Russell Westbrook ($4.07 million) have player options. Kai Jones’ deal ($2.1 million) is nonguaranteed.

So, there are decisions all around that need to be made. Here is more from Law and Murray:

“It starts with George, the 34-year-old, nine-time All-Star whose forthcoming free agency was never part of this plan. But the complications won’t end there, with Harden, coach Ty Lue, and Westbrook all facing nuanced negotiations of their own as they all decide whether the desire to recommit to the Clippers is mutual.”

In addition to the decisions discussed, the Clippers have three other players who will be free agents this summer: Mason Plumlee (UFA), Daniel Theis, and Brandon Boston (restricted). The Clippers have eight players eligible for an extension this spring, per ESPN’s Boby Marks.

Paul George

George and the Clippers have been discussing an extension all season long. Obviously, nothing substantial has come of those discussions, and it is expected that the 34-year-old opt out of his player option if an extension isn’t worked out beforehand. If George does become a free agent, he is expected to garner a lot of attention from teams with salary cap room. The Philadelphia 76ers and Orlando Magic Have already been mentioned as potential suitors for the nine-time all-star.

George remains one of the best two-way wings. George is not quite the scorer he was with OKC, but he is one of the best 3-point shooters in the league, averaging 3.1 treys while knocking them down at a 39.7% clip.

George, a native of Los Angeles County, spoke with ESPN’s Ohm Youngmiusk following the Clippers’ elimination last night and was noncommittal about his future.

“If it works that way, absolutely. … I’m not even focused on that yet. 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.

James Harden

Harden is 34 and has forced his way out from his previous teams, Houston, Philadelphia, and Brooklyn. Harden wanted a max contract from Philadelphia, but he is an LA native. While Harden didn’t have a great regular season, he did play well in the playoffs, compiling 21.2 points, 8.0 assists, and 3.0 treys while shooting .449/.383/.906.

Law and Murray reported that “team and league sources say that both sides want this partnership to continue.”

Russell Westbrook

Westbrook was reportedly not happy with his sixth-man role this season. He did play well despite seeing just 22 minutes a game, though, finishing seventh in sixth-man of the year voting. The 34-year-old LA native, who struggled in the playoffs, does have a player option for the upcoming season.

PJ Tucker

Tucker is expected to exercise his player option for next season, according to HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto. The 38-year-old only played in 28 games for the Clippers after being acquired from Philadelphia. He did see 31 minutes in two playoff games.


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