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Clippings: What does a Paul George extension look like?

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The team’s second-most important player doesn’t have to be a free agent next offseason.

Los Angeles Clippers v Denver Nuggets - Game Six Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

When the Clippers signed Kawhi Leonard and traded for Paul George, they set a two-year clock on their championship window until both stars could be free agents in the 2021 offseason. Year one of that timeline has already come to an end, and even if George didn’t think that the Clippers were “championship or bust” last season, that expectation is certainly the case this year.

But the clock doesn’t have to end after this season. Newly-hired head coach Ty Lue said he expects both Leonard and George to be Clippers for a long time, and the Clippers don’t have to wait until next offseason to ensure George’s future in Los Angeles. Since George signed his contract two seasons ago with the Thunder, he is eligible for an extension this offseason, one that could keep him in a Clipper uniform for five more years. Leonard can’t sign an extension because his contract is only one year old.

The Clippers could add four more years to George’s current deal starting at $42.5 million in 2022-23 for a total value of about $192 million. For comparison, the Blazers inked Damian Lillard to a four-year, $196 million extension last summer.

If the Clippers came to George with that offer, it’s hard to believe he would say no. The team would have one of its superstars under contract for the foreseeable future while giving Leonard a pretty big carrot to also stay in Los Angeles. Admittedly, that figure is exorbitant and probably more worthy of a no. 1 option than George. However, the Clippers could still settle for something like four years, $170 million and negotiate a sacrifice from George in exchange for the safety of a long-term deal. George might also want to avoid free agency because of the uncertainty with the salary cap due the pandemic.

George has been vocal about how much it means to him to play close to home for a team he grew up rooting for, and if he wants to remain with the Clippers, he can lock in financial security right now while also giving the front office some assurances about the future of the Clippers’ roster. The Clippers probably aren’t going to get anybody better than George on the open market — unless they feel very good about Giannis Antetokounmpo leaving Milwaukee next summer — so it makes sense to hold onto their existing star.

An extension could put the Clippers at ease, be very lucrative for George, and alleviate some of the pressure on this team heading into the 2020-21 season. It only makes sense for the two sides to come to the table.

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