Clippers sign Paul George to max contract extension

Paul George said he wanted to retire with the Clippers. The Clippers reportedly weren’t looking to trade him.

Both sides proved they meant it.

The Clippers have signed George to a four-year max contract extension that will be worth more than $176 million.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The Clippers are extending George’s contract for an additional four years, $190M on top of the $35.4M guaranteed him in the 2020-2021 season. George will have a new player option before the 2024-2025 season, Mintz said.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 10, 2020

This removes considerable pressure from the Clippers, who were entering potential contract years for both Kawhi Leonard and George. Though Leonard could still leave in 2021 free agency, the Clippers now have a better draw with George – the player Leonard wanted to play with – locked in.

George’s extension also gives him more credibility as a franchise cornerstone, which could improve chemistry. Last season, their teammates resented the preferential treatment received by Leonard and George – but especially George. Unlike Leonard, George had never led a team to a championship. George was clearly the sidekick.

That dynamic hasn’t completely changed. This is still primarily Leonard’s team. George still has tendencies that can be grating. But a max extension that keeps him around at least four more seasons gives George more cachet in the locker room.

George was already set with a $35,450,412 salary this season. He declined his $37,895,268 player option for 2021-22 as part of this extension. Instead, he’ll earn a max salary (the amount of which will be determined next year based on NBA-wide revenue). Annual raises in his extension will be fore 8% of his 2021-22 salary.

The projected value of the extension:

2021-22: $39,344,970
2022-23: $42,492,568
2023-24: $45,640,165
2024-25: $48,787,763 (player option)
Total: $176,265,466
George’s contract cannot be worth $226 million over the next five years. (It’s silly to include this season’s already-set salary, anyway, but I’ll keep this apples-to-apples). The $226 million is based on George’s salary in the first year of the extension being 120% of his prior salary, which is the theoretical maximum. But George’s first-year salary in an extension can’t eclipse the amount he would would have earned as a free agent. Because the max salaries can increase only up to 10%, a full 120% raise isn’t possible. The max amount over five years is $223,695,084. But even that would require league-wide revenue landing far higher than projected next season.

In most accurate terms, this extension is projected to be worth (and will be worth at least) $176,265,466 over four years.