Why Clippers' Paul George signing with the 76ers makes no sense

Los Angeles Clippers v Philadelphia 76ers
Los Angeles Clippers v Philadelphia 76ers / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

The entire LA Clippers off-season will revolve around the status of Paul George. 

The future first-ballot Hall of Famer has a $48.7M player option for next season, but with an extension increasingly unlikely, he appears destined to hit the open market. In a weaker free-agency pool, George will command top dollar.

The 34-year-old's union with the Clippers feels strained. The promise of a dynamic tandem with Kawhi Leonard has failed miserably, and continuously trotting out the same core while hoping for a different result is implausible. George isn't a beacon of health, but he's looked like Cal Ripken Jr. compared to his counterpart. He's the one with his hands on his hips at the end of these failed playoff runs as Leonard watches on in street clothes. There is no hope that the two can see the floor when it matters most.

So what's the move? The franchise inexplicably re-upped Leonard's contract in January, prolonging his tenure to 2027. James Harden is also seeking one final payday. Rotational bigs Mason Plumlee and Daniel Theis are presumably unattainable. Steve Balmer is directing a rudderless ship with no straightforward fix in place.

That leaves George, a Los Angeles County native, to consider what's best for his legacy. Barring a sign-and-trade, only a few teams have the cap space to offer him a max deal. The Orlando Magic and Philadelphia 76ers have been the favorites to pry him away from LA, with the latter many's presumed favorite. Beyond the financial reasons, that move makes no sense. 

Paul George would regret departing the LA Clippers for the Philadelphia 76ers

An unreliable co-star has handicapped George in recent years, so why would he join Joel Embiid? The 2023 MVP has shown an inability to stay healthy to make even a Conference Finals run in the postseason. Embiid often plays his most challenging battles as a shell of himself. 

There's an argument that just replacing Tobias Harris with George could do wonders for the club. Few players log more unmemorable minutes than Harris. He disappears to the corner offensively, and every shot he takes feels like a win for the opposition. George just competing at a fringe All-Star level would be a dramatic upgrade.

But is that enough? A hobbled Embiid, George, and Tyrese Maxey can only go so far. That foundation still wouldn't challenge the Boston Celtics or a healthy New York Knicks. If the Miami Heat were to add a third high-end piece next to Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, that team would be better. 

George's situation would be eerily similar to the one he's already in, just on the other side of the country. It's not logical for him to be the third option on a team with little chance of contending for a title, even if everything breaks in their favor. He would get lost in the shuffle and would instantly regret that partnership.