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June 30, 2024

Report: Sixers to sign Paul George to four-year contract

The Sixers' year-long plan of signing a star free agent this summer came to fruition, as the team has reportedly agreed to a deal with nine-time All-Star Paul George.

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Paul George signing Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

The Sixers reportedly have their third star: Paul George.

It happened: the Sixers have an agreement with Paul George on a four-year contract that will bring the nine-time All-Star to Philadelphia, according to a report from ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

George is projected to earn a total of $212,205,000 over the life of the max contract that will run from his age-34 season through his age-37 season. According to Wojnarowski, the fourth year of the deal contains a player option.

Season (George age)Salary
2024-25 (34)$49,350,000
2025-26 (35)$51,817,500
2026-27 (36)$54,285,000
2027-28 (37, player option)$56,752,500

Ever since the trade that sent James Harden to the Clippers at the beginning of last season -- which netted the Sixers role players on expiring contracts and future draft picks -- it was abundantly clear that Sixers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey and his front office were gearing up for the chance to add another high-profile name to their present All-Star duo of Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey this offseason. Nearly a year later, their hopes have become reality.

George, considered by many to be one of the best two-way wing players of his era, has averaged 20.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.7 steals per game over the course of his impressive NBA career, while posting a career 38.5 three-point percentage as one of the highest-volume long-range shooters in the world.

The move ends a five-year partnership with Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers, after George forced a trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Clippers to team with Leonard and try to win a championship in his home state of California. Many expected George and Leonard to lead the Clippers to the promised land, but they never reached an NBA Finals due to a combination of injuries and playoff letdowns.

The Clippers were reportedly never willing to offer George a four-year deal -- Leonard, who had been on the same timeline on George contractually, inked a three-year extension last winter -- and evidently, the Sixers had no hesitation pulling the trigger on a contract with that sort of framework.

NBA free agency: Is Paul George the Sixers' missing piece?

There are fair reasons to wonder if this is the right path forward for the Sixers: he is 34 years old, has an extensive injury history and, like the team he is set to join, has a reputation for falling short in the playoffs. Some believe that the Sixers would have been better off spreading out their massive cap space around to sign multiple quality role players in a vote of confidence that Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey can be the lone stars for a championship team.

But the Sixers have long signaled that a three-star model was their preferred form of roster construction and privately appeared to be of the belief that they had a very real chance of landing George despite conflicting reports about whether or not mutual interest actually existed.

Signing George will occupy the vast majority of the Sixers' cap space, with the remainder going to Andre Drummond and the team using its room Mid-Level Exception on Kelly Oubre Jr.

In order to sign George, the Sixers have to renounce their Bird rights to several free agents, meaning they can no longer exceed the salary cap in order to sign them -- they can only sign them to deals using the aforementioned MLE or a veteran's minimum contract. The players who will need to be renounced include Tobias Harris, Buddy Hield, Nic Batum, Robert Covington and De'Anthony Melton. This does not definitively rule out returns for all five, but it does make bringing them back into the fold more difficult to pull off. 

Sixers free agency primer: Literally everything you need to know

As the Sixers have demonstrated here, though, they are far more concerned by who their team's third star is than who their key reserves are. They are of the belief that teams win with as many stars as possible. So, in their view, the hardest part of building a championship team is done, with Embiid, Maxey and George being a three-man unit prolific enough to anchor a championship team in their eyes. Now it is up to Morey and co. to surround their new prized trio with the proper supporting cast to challenge the likes of the Boston Celtics and other Eastern Conference contenders.

Give the Sixers this: whether one agrees with signing George being the right path for them to travel, the team spent an entire year plotting for this very moment and were able to pull off exactly what they hoped to execute. Paul George is a Sixer.

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