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George shares his side of Clippers negotiations, details Sixers' star-studded pitch 

George discussed the behind-the-scenes events that led to him becoming a Sixer.

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Paul George did not stay silent about those high-stakes discussions behind closed doors.

On his Podcast P show with co-hosts Jackie Long and Dallas Rutherford, George spoke candidly and at length about how he ended up signing a four-year max contract to join the Sixers.

Below are some of the ear-catching moments from the show: 

The Sixers’ sell 

George wore an Allen Iverson shirt to his free-agent meeting with the Sixers, so he clearly didn’t need much convincing by that stage.

Still, he apparently came away impressed by the Sixers’ efforts to land him. Julius Erving’s presence and pitch sure had him fully on board. 

“Dr. J had a dope, dope intro, and just a story,” George said. “He brought up how he joined the team, they ended up getting to the championship, lost one. Got to the championship, again lost. Got to the championship again, lost. He was like, ‘We just can’t get over the hump.’ Then they go and get Moses Malone, and they win. And he was like, ‘That was the missing piece.’ 

“He was like, ‘P, you’re the missing piece.’ So I was like, ‘Man, where do I sign? Where do I sign?’ But obviously there’s a ton of work cut out. Hopefully me, Joel (Embiid) and Tyrese (Maxey) get on the same page as early as possible. But it is an opportunity to win and to try to get a championship in Philly.”

George also mentioned a Sixers recruitment video that included rapper Meek Mill.

“Saquon (Barkley) was in it, Lil Dicky, Kevin Hart, Mike Trout,” he said. “And they did this cool thing with Philly natives talking about the city, what the Sixers mean to them, and what it would mean with me coming there. It was a cool video. It had a lot of energy behind the city.”

How Clippers partnership dissolved 

Even before George formally decided to be a Sixer, the Clippers released a statement acknowledging “the gap was significant” between the sides in negotiations about the nine-time All-Star’s next contract. 

George began his account of those fruitless discussions by saying he “never wanted to leave L.A.”

“L.A. is home,” he said. “This is where I wanted to finish at. I wanted to work as hard as possible to win one in L.A. That was the goal — to be here and be committed to L.A. As it played out, though, the initial deal (offered) was, I thought, kind of disrespectful. And in all of this, no hard feelings, no love lost. It’s a business. So the initial deal was two years, ($60 million). I’m like, ‘Woah, woah, woah. Two years, 60?!’ That’s crazy. So I’m like, ‘No, I’m not signing that.’ 

“Now we’re getting into the negotiating. … As we kept going, they would go up inches, inches, inches to where it was 44, 45. But this was a couple months in between before we got it to 40-something. So I’m still like, ‘Nah, I’m not doing that.’ Then I hear what they’re going to give Kawhi (Leonard). So I’m like, ‘Just give me what Kawhi got. Y’all view us the same. We came here together, we want to finish this s--- together. I’ll take what Kawhi got, no problem.’ I was cool with that. … They didn’t want to do that. 

“This was before the All-Star break. So I’m like, ‘Let’s not even have (any more) conversations. Let’s just play this year out.’ It was starting to get into my mood. ... So I was just like, ‘Man, let’s just let this s--- play out. Let me get to the end of this year and we’ll discuss this again.’” 

Once those talks resumed, George felt he’d strengthened his position by playing 74 games, averaging 22.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists, and sporting a career-best 61.3 true shooting percentage. 

“Now we go into negotiations and they bring it to three years, 150 — so basically around what they gave Kawhi,” he said. “A part of me was like, ‘It sucks that it had to get to this point, that we couldn’t get this figured out a lot sooner, but now … we’re in the ballpark. Now we can have a conversation here.’

“And again, it still wasn’t about the money, because when I went back to the negotiation at the end of the year, I presented the three, 150, no-trade. In the meeting, they’re like, ‘We want you here long term. ... We want you to be a Clipper your whole career.’ So I’m like, ‘Cool, cool. Give me the three years, 150, no-trade then. No-trade clause. I’m taking less, but at least I know I’m here. I’m committed to y’all.’ They didn’t want to do the no-trade. 

“So now I’m like, ‘All right, then it only makes sense for me to do four years, 212, right? At least pay me my money.’ If y’all are going to trade me, y’all are going to trade me, but at least now I’m not in a situation where I could’ve gotten more if I’d just gone to free agency … and y’all can just ship me to whoever you want, and now I’m on this deal that I didn’t want.’ They didn’t want to do that. 

“So now I’m open to entertaining what’s out there. And through the negotiations, they weren’t budging. I wasn’t going to budge. I thought I played well enough for them to be like, ‘You know what? He’s a part of our future.’ I thought I did that. I thought I earned that. Granted, we didn’t win while I was there, but luck has a lot to do with that. ... They didn’t want to do it, so it was just a stalemate. And ultimately, it was like, all right, that ship has sailed. I love (Clippers owner Steve Ballmer), I love (president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank) but at that point it didn’t even feel right to come back with that type of energy and be comfortable playing back in L.A.”

The Golden State scenario 

When George declined his $48.8 million player option, the Warriors effectively got crossed off the list of potential destinations. The Sixers, with cap space galore, seized the chance to give him that four-year deal he desired. 

However, according to George, he wasn’t far at all from opting in and getting traded to Golden State. 

“That was a real thing,” he said. “That was close to being done. ... From what I was being told on the situation, they were expressing how much they wanted me there, how I could’ve fit in perfectly with Draymond (Green), Steph (Curry), (Brandin) Podziemski, (Jonathan) Kuminga, (Andrew) Wiggins. They didn’t know what package was going to be there to trade for me. … It was very intriguing. 

“It was still an opportunity to stay close to home, stay on the West Coast. And it was a win-win. I think Steph is a unicorn, one-of-one player. And Joel is a unicorn, one-of-one player. So it was a good situation to be in the middle of. But ultimately, the deal didn’t go through. I think the Clippers didn’t want a certain deal that the Warriors were willing to give … and it just didn’t happen. But it was close. It was close.”

Connecting with new star teammates 

While George doesn’t yet have an ultra-tight bond with Embiid, he said he feels “like we’re kind of similar just in being introverted.” 

“As All-Star stuff’s going on, players are hanging, talking,” George said. “We kind of just do our own thing, keep to ourselves. But then slowly, it’s like, ‘What’s up, big fella? What’s going on? Where are you going after here? What are you doing with your fam?’ It was just a natural conversation we would have. 

“So there wasn’t no crazy relationship before … but just talking to him, he was like, ‘Man, regardless of what happens, you’re somebody that I look at as a friend. I feel like we’re similar people. We always got along. I keep to myself, but you’re a cool dude. I f--- with you.’ 

“So I was like, ‘I f--- with you too, big fella.’ Good dude, man. Joel is a good dude. I f--- with Joel.”

George is also looking forward to learning more about Maxey (and perhaps teaching him a few things). 

“Tyrese, man, he’s one of the most mature kids in the league, one of the most mature kids for his age,” George said. “He was just like, ‘Man, I learned so much when big fella went down. There was a ton of pressure on me. I was able to see different defenses, learn, grow.’

“And I’m like, ‘Whatever I can help with in getting you even better, that’s what I’m here for.’ He’s a star. We all know he’s a star. He’s got No. 1 option capabilities. And you need those fresh legs, that liveliness that he has. 

“Joel … I’ve never played with someone so big and dominant like that. He’s the best or one of the best centers in the league, bro. That’s a beast. Baby Shaq. It’s a dream come true, having a star point guard and a star big. That’s a crazy dynamic right there.”

You can watch the complete podcast below: 

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