2024 NBA free agency: Paul George opts out of Clippers contract, enters free agency

2024 NBA free agency: Paul George opts out of Clippers contract, enters free agency

Nine-time NBA All-Star Paul George declined his $48.8 million option to play for the Los Angeles Clippers next season, making himself one of the league's most coveted free agents, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

The 34-year-old averaged 22.6 points (on 47/41/91 shooting splits), 5.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game this past season, leading the Clippers to the first round of the playoffs. They lost to the Dallas Mavericks.

The Clippers can offer George a four-year, $221 million maximum contract. They have been unwilling to offer more than the three-year, $152.4 million extension that Kawhi Leonard signed during the season, according to multiple reports. George's decision to opt out will put the Clippers' intentions to the test.

George's suitors became clear hours later when he was reported to be taking meetings with the Clippers, Philadelphia 76ers and Orlando Magic once free agency begins.

The Clippers traded Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari and the rights to seven first-round draft picks for George in the summer of 2019, as they were also in the process of recruiting Leonard to L.A. This past season marked the first time George played more than 56 games in a season for the Clippers.

George led the franchise to its first appearance in the Western Conference finals in 2021.

The Sixers, who count themselves as the only championship contender with max salary cap space, have long been expected to be suitors, even after The Athletic's Shams Charania reported that the team's interest in George "has significantly waned." (Maybe because his interest in them has waned?) Sixers star Joel Embiid was openly recruiting George to Philadelphia on live TV during the NBA Finals.

However, championship contention may not be George's sole purpose in free agency.

"People saying chasing a championship," George said during a recent episode of his podcast, addressing his free-agency goals. "It’s not that, but it’s playing the right style of basketball is what I’m chasing."

George can sign with another team for as much as $212 million over the next four seasons. The Detroit Pistons are currently the only team besides the Sixers expected to clear enough cap space to sign him.