NBA free agency: Clippers announce Paul George is leaving for another team

Paul George's time with the Los Angeles Clippers is done. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Clippers released a statement Sunday evening announcing Paul George has informed them he will play for another team.

"Paul has informed us that he is signing his next contract with another NBA team," the Clippers statement reads. "Paul is a tremendous talent and an elite two-way player. We feel fortunate for the five years we spent with him."

Update: Paul George, 76ers agree to max $212M contract

The team cited a "significant" gap in negotiations for the failed talks with George.

“We negotiated for months with Paul and his representatives on a contract that would make sense for both sides, and we were left far apart. The gap was significant.

“We understand and respect Paul’s decision to look elsewhere for his next contract.”

The Clippers also noted that a trade scenario wouldn't have made sense for the team.

“We explored an opt-in and trade scenario, but it would have left us in a similar position under the new CBA, with very little asset value to justify the restrictions," the statement reads.

The Clippers made the announcement shortly after the open of NBA free agency negotiations Sunday evening.

An unrestricted free agent after opting out of his contract on Saturday, George has reportedly agreed to sign a max contract with the Philadelphia 76ers.

George remains a high-level two-way player at 34 years old. He averaged 22.6 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.5 steals per game while shooting 47.1% from the field and a career-high 41.3% from 3 last season. He made his ninth career All-Star team and — teaming up with Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey — raises Philadelphia's chances to win an NBA championship.

The development marks the end of an era in Los Angeles and a failed effort to build a championship team around George and Kawhi Leonard.

The Clippers traded to acquire George in a 2019 blockbuster deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Los Angeles sent Oklahoma City a package that included five first-round draft picks, two pick swaps, Danilo Gallinari and — most notably — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who's developed into a two-time First Team All-NBA selection and MVP finalist. The Thunder have developed into a championship contender with one of the league's most promising rosters, thanks in part to that deal.

The Clippers made the big swing to acquire George after signing Leonard as a free agent. Leonard was fresh off leading the Toronto Raptors to an NBA championship and combined with George for one of the NBA's most potent one-two punches.

The Clippers weren't able to convert the tandem into championship contention. With both stars plagued by injuries, the Clippers never made it to the NBA Finals. Their best effort with George and Leonard saw the Clippers advance to the Western Conference finals in 2021, where they lost to the Phoenix Suns.

The Clippers haven't won a playoff series since. With Leonard sidelined by a torn ACL, they missed the playoffs in 2022. They've failed to advance out of the first round in each of the last two seasons.

“We traded a lot to pair Paul and Kawhi, and in exchange, we had five seasons of contention," the Clippers statement reads. "Even though we fell short of our ultimate objective, we appreciate the chances we had with Paul."

Now George is gone, and the Clippers are faced with rebuilding the roster around Leonard and James Harden, who reportedly agreed to return to the Clippers on Sunday on a two-year, $70 million contract. The Clippers reportedly made a move later Sunday to fill the void on the wing with a three-year, $30 million deal with former Dallas Mavericks forward Derrick Jones Jr. They also reached a deal with Kevin Porter Jr., the former Houston Rockets guard who missed last NBA season following a domestic assault charge.

George's departure puts a damper on the scheduled opening of the Intuit Dome next season. The Clippers will move into their own arena in Inglewood after sharing a venue with the Lakers since their move to Los Angeles in 1984.