NBA Rumors: Multiple League Executives Link Paul George’s Extension To Kawhi Leonard’s Future With LA Clippers

Many people were surprised when the Los Angeles Clippers decided to throw away a huge amount of money to prevent All-Star small forward Paul George from entering the free agency market in the summer of 2021. After he publicly stated that he wanted to retire a Clipper, they immediately handed him a four-year, $190 million contract extension. George may be currently one of the best two-way players in the league but with his inconsistent performance last season, it’s hard to blame some people for questioning if they made the right decision to give him a massive deal.

However, according to Paolo Uggetti of The Ringer, multiple front-office executives believe the Clippers’ decision to sign George to a massive contract extension has something to do with their other superstar, Kawhi Leonard.

“As we saw this season, a lot can happen in a year, but multiple front office sources said the timing and intent behind the extension is also a way of showing Kawhi that the franchise is committed to competing with that duo. The Clippers’ own messaging seemed to indicate such as well. President Lawrence Frank said he won’t make assumptions that Kawhi is staying, but that the Clippers are ‘super excited’ about the partnership between the two players. And before George signed, new head coach Ty Lue said he expects both George and Leonard to be Clippers for a long time.”

Leonard has a player option on his contract the will allow him to become an unrestricted free agent next offseason. Unlike George, he isn’t eligible to sign an extension this fall, but the Clippers could do something to convince him to stay in Los Angeles beyond the 2020-21 NBA season. Before he agreed to sign with the Clippers in the 2019 free agency, Leonard personally recruited George to become his running mate in Los Angeles.

They failed to bring home the Larry O’Brien Trophy last season, but they remain in a good relationship. After inking a new deal with the Clippers, George said that he would love to play with Leonard for the rest of his contract. PG said that he and Leonard enjoy playing with one another, and he’s hoping that they have a mutual bond about staying long-term in Los Angeles.

George’s massive contract extension is expected to boost the Clippers’ chances of re-signing Leonard when he enters the free agency market in the 2021 offseason. However, if they are serious about keeping Leonard, they should show a massive improvement in their performance next season. If they fail to at least enter the 2021 NBA Finals, there’s a strong possibility that Leonard would consider entertaining other offers in the 2021 free agency.

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