Heading into last season, the Los Angeles Clippers were heavy title favorites. Led by Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, they won their first-round series and took a 3-1 lead in the second round against the Denver Nuggets. But things quickly unraveled as they lost three games in a row. Before they knew it, the Clippers were out of the playoffs and being labeled as underachievers. Soon after their elimination, the Clippers let go of coach Doc Rivers.
Yet after that painful year, the Clippers aren't ready to give up. In fact, they're doubling down on one of their stars.
George has reportedly agreed to a new maximum extension to stay in Los Angeles. As ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reports, the extension is worth $190 million over four years. George is already set to make $35.4 million this season, making the total deal about $226 million over five years.
George had a player option of $37.9 million for the 2021-22 season. Had he declined that option, he would have become a free agent. Instead, he's planting his roots in Los Angeles and hoping to win his first career title with the Clippers.
Compared to his 2018-19 season with the Oklahoma City Thunder — which included averages of 28.0 points, 8.2 rebounds, and a league-leading 2.2 steals — George had a disappointing 2019-20 campaign. He finished with 21.5 points and 5.7 rebounds and struggled to shoot well in the playoffs, hitting below 40 percent from the field.
Even with a down year, the Clippers believe in George long-term. He's still only 30 years old and has made 5 All-NBA Teams and 4 All-Defensive Teams. And the team hopes a new coach could help energize their star.
George and Rivers often clashed, and the forward recently said he thought Rivers misused him as a player. The Clippers hired Tyronn Lue to replace Rivers, who will likely try to boost George's efficiency and usage numbers.
For now, the Clippers are glad to have George for the next half-decade. They'll look to bounce back and put up a stronger performance in the new season.