Predicting the Clippers' perfect starting lineup after ideal offseason

The Clippers must nail this offseason if they want to stay in contention.
LA Clippers, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, James Harden
LA Clippers, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, James Harden / Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports
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SG: Paul George

George is expected to decline his $48.7 million player option and become a free agent this summer. He was extension-eligible, but the two sides could not work out a new contract.

Kawhi Leonard took fewer dollars and years in his extension. The Clippers are trying to limit their spending because of the new apron rules. They want to maintain a talented roster and have the flexibility to make moves. Bringing back Harden and George will put them over the second apron, but the Clippers would like to be able to cut their spending whenever they see fit.

George will get max contract offers from other teams. Does he want to remain in Los Angeles or take more to play elsewhere? His departure could impact Kawhi’s happiness with the Clippers. LA may be forced to increase their offer if George threatens to go elsewhere.

Ideally, they re-sign the nine-time All-Star to a three-year contract that makes George and Leonard free agents in the summer of 2027. The Clippers can reevaluate where their roster stands at that point.

The Clippers do not have much certainty, but they hold the cards on one of their superstars. He will be back unless the other departures force a trade demand.