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June 29, 2024

Reports: Paul George declines player option with Clippers, Sixers are 'significant threat' to sign him

The Paul George to Philadelphia rumors are heating up once again, with the nine-time All-Star set to hit free agency and the Sixers expected to be in pursuit.

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Paul George 6.28.24 Kiyoshi Mio/USA TODAY Sports

Paul George is going to be a free agent. The Sixers could have more cap space than any other NBA team. Will it be a match after all?

The latest, and perhaps most significant, development in the chaotic Paul George saga: the nine-time All-Star wing has declined his $48.7 million player option with the Los Angeles Clippers for next season, according to a report from ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, meaning that at 6:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, George will officially be an unrestricted free agent, able to negotiate contracts with any and all teams. Wojnarowski added that George will be setting up meetings with the Clippers and other teams with the requisite cap space to sign him on Sunday night. 

According to Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report and TNT, the Sixers are planning to "aggressively pursue" George and are a "legitimate threat" to the Clippers.

For months, it seemed as if the Sixers were operating with George as their primary free agency target; spending a year assembling a roster that would allow them to free up more cap space than any other NBA team during the offseason. Then, out of nowhere, it was reported that the team's interest in one of the game's most prolific two-way wings had dissipated. Now we know that the team does covet his services.

Part of the appeal of George, 34, is that his skillset should enable him to fit seamlessly on just about any roster, especially a Sixers team that already includes a dynamic All-Star duo of Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey. He is one of the best three-point shooters on the wing in recent NBA history, has averaged at least 20 points per game in each of his last 10 full NBA seasons, and has a reputation as one of the best wing defenders of his era.

The Sixers have the ability to create upwards of $50 million in cap space this summer, and as a player with more than 10 years of NBA service, George's maximum contract value starts at $49.3 million. The most the Sixers can offer George is a four-year deal worth over $212 million. Here is the year-by-year breakdown of the hypothetical offer:

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)$56,752,500

In order to free up enough cap space to make this deal happen, the Sixers would have to renounce the vast majority of their free agents, which would cause them to lose their Bird rights on those players (meaning they could no longer exceed the salary cap to re-sign them). They would be armed with the room mid-level exception -- which starts at about $8 million -- and veteran's minimum contracts to sign the remainder of their roster. 

With free agency beginning in just over 24 hours and George seemingly considering Philadelphia as an option, the noise is about to escalate. Buckle up.

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