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Clippers and George part ways

Paul George is leaving the Los Angeles Clippers, his former team announced on Sunday night. All indications are that the nine-time All-Star may return to the Eastern Conference and join the Philadelphia 76ers.

If his next contract is maxed out, George could demand more than $200 million over four years.

“Paul has informed us that he will sign his next contract with another team,” the Clippers said in a press release on Sunday evening.

The team added: “We spent months negotiating with Paul and his representative on a contract that would make sense for both sides, and we have come a long way apart. The gap was significant. We understand and respect Paul’s decision to look elsewhere for his next contract.”

George had a $48.8 million option for next season, but he didn’t exercise it and instead entered free agency, which began Sunday night. It was believed that George and the Clippers still had a chance to make something happen, but the team made it clear that those hopes are dashed.

Meanwhile, James Harden will remain with the Clippers on a two-year contract that includes a player option, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press on Sunday.

Harden’s contract – which could be worth as much as $70 million if he opts in for 2025-26 – was agreed to in principle before free agency technically began, said the person, who spoke to AP on condition of anonymity because neither Harden nor the Clippers had announced the agreement.

Additionally, veteran guard Chris Paul will join Rookie of the Year Victor Wembanyama in San Antonio on a one-year deal, a person familiar with the agreement said.

Paul was released on Sunday morning by the Golden State Warriors, who otherwise would have had to pay him $30 million for the upcoming season. ESPN reported that the Spurs will pay Paul around $11 million. Paul, 39, averaged 9.2 points and 6.8 assists in 58 games with the Warriors last season.

And Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will bring his championship experience to the Orlando Magic, a team that made a big leap last season and is now trying to become an even stronger contender in the East.

photo FILE – Los Angeles Clippers guard James Harden (1) drives past Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic during Game 4 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series in Dallas on April 28, 2024. When NBA free agency began on Sunday, June 30, 2024, Harden agreed to stay with the Clippers on a two-year contract worth up to $70 million, a person familiar with the agreement told The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter, File)
photo FILE – Kevin Love of the Miami Heat, right, attempts to shoot against Pat Connaughton of the Milwaukee Bucks, left, during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Feb. 13, 2024, in Milwaukee. Love signed a new contract to remain with the Heat on Sunday, June 30, 2024, a person familiar with the contract told The Associated Press. Love’s new deal was expected to be worth about $4 million a year. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash, File)