Podcast P With Paul George: “Signing w/76ers, Clippers Contract Negotiations, Conversation w/Kawhi, & More”

Podcast P With Paul George: “Signing w/76ers, Clippers Contract Negotiations, Conversation w/Kawhi, & More”

Paul George breaks his silence on Clippers negotiations, his decision to join the 76ers, and the near-deal with the Warriors on “Podcast P With Paul George”.

We share this week’s episode of “Podcast P with Paul George”–presented by Wave Sports + Entertainment–where PG gives an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at his decision to join the Philadelphia 76ers, recounts where things ultimately went wrong in his negotiation with the Clippers and delivers heartfelt parting words to Clipper Nation.

In this revealing episode, PG details the 76ers’ compelling free agency pitch, his enthusiasm for teaming up with Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey, and the significance behind his choice to wear the #8 jersey.

He also opens up about his conversation with Kawhi Leonard where he revealed his decision to leave Los Angeles and provides an in-depth account of his negotiations with the Clippers, describing his initial desire to stay with the team and the disconnect he felt during the process.

Just the idea of playing with such a presence in Joel [Embiid] and then just a fresh start, new opportunity. I was pretty open on the conversation and the decision. I think stuff was kind of at a [stand] still with Clippers, which opened me into looking at other teams, hearing other programs out and ultimately it was more so just the idea of playing with one of the best young point guards in the league and one of the best, if not the best, big in the league in Joel [Embiid]. So I mean it was kind of just like, let’s see what this looks like.

Just to put it out there, I never wanted to leave LA initially. I was not trying to leave LA– LA is home. This is where I wanted to finish at. I wanted to work as hard as possible to win one in LA, that was the goal…the first initial deal was I thought kind of disrespectful.

It is business. I was torn a little bit because of just the history we had these past five years…We had some good ups, we had some downs, but I thought I deserved more, especially more than first initial contract. That part you can’t never overlook. Like, ‘That’s really how y’all felt?’ And so after that it was kind of just was like, what else is out there?

EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS

  • PG REVEALS WHY HE CHOSE #8 FOR HIS JERSEY [2:20]

PG: “My idol ‘The Bean’ Kobe Bryant – my way of idolizing Kobe and something that meant something outside of 24 and 13”

Dallas: “How long did that decision take you? Because I’d imagine it was a little bit of a dilemma for you there. What number am I going to wear?”

PG: “It did take a minute. I was like, I was going through all numbers like, man, what makes sense? What looks good? What will I be comfortable in? I went with like 14 because my son can’t say 13 so he says 14 but I don’t know that number– just don’t look right, didn’t have a ring to it…I can’t picture myself in a 14 jersey…”

Jackie: “Of course it’s beyond different motivation wearing this number eight now, because now with the world knowing why and all this and we know what Kobe Bryant has done in this world, so I’m just saying I like this number on you and I expect and I hope to see you do some Kobe things man in Philly.”

PG: “You know what? For me it’s just, it’s good to have those moments of just like when you look at that Jersey– Yeah, this is who I’m putting it on for so I wanted that moment of just being able to hold myself accountable.”

Jackie: “I’ll tell you this, Kobe would be proud.”

PG: “I hope so”

  • PG DISCUSSES THE CHALLENGES OF BEING A FREE AGENT FOR THE FIRST TIME AND MAKING THE DECISION TO MOVE [8:11]

PG: “Shout out Peter Dinwiddie, Daryl Morey, just the whole majority of the Philly front office was there at the house and it was a great meeting and talk about organization. Not to say that Clippers didn’t and the Clippers don’t, but just an organization that just was like, man, you’re our guy. We believe in you, we want you here, there’s no perfect [more] pairing with you, Joel [Embiid], Tyrese [Maxey] together. My family felt it, I felt it, it just felt like, alright, this is where I’m going to spend the next chapter of my life. It felt good, man…They sold the city, sold the team, the organization, the fit, and it was just like an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

Jackie: “What was your mindset coming into the meeting and what did you want to get specifically out of them? What did you want to hear from the Sixers? What is it like that was going to make you say, damn, I’m here, this is where I’m at?”

PG: “I think it was just the idea of playing with such a presence in Joel [Embiid] and then just a fresh start, new opportunity. I was pretty open on the conversation and the decision. I think stuff was kind of at a [stand] still with Clippers, which opened me into looking at other teams, hearing other programs out and ultimately it was more so just the idea of one of the best point guards, young point guards in the league and the best, if not the best, big in the league in Joel [Embiid]. So I mean it was kind of just like, let’s see what this looks like.”

Jackie: “Did you feel like from that conversation, this is home, meaning because you got to feel like wherever you going, you want to feel like I belong here. This is where I’m definitely going to be. The people love me, I love the city, I love everything about this. What made you feel like this was home?”

PG: “I can’t really say it feels like home yet. I ain’t ever been around the city yet but I’m looking forward to it…But based off the meeting I did feel it was a level that made me feel this is where I’m supposed to be. It was the toughest decision, because I’m moving my kids, my wife, right? They’re comfortable here. My daughters, they’re already sad that they’re missing out and leaving their friends that they now have grown up with for the past five years and so it was a lot. I ain’t going to lie. It’s probably the most stressful time that I’ve been through in a long time, because I’ve never been through free agency…Every time I’ve foregone free agency and re-signed. So this was the first time I was an official free agent, and it was stressful. I ain’t going to lie. Especially me being home. I think about somewhere else–it would’ve been a little different. But this is the crib. Do I really want to leave LA?”

  • PG ON THE ENCOURAGING WORDS 76ERS LEGEND, JULIUS ERVING SHARED WITH PG ABOUT JOINING PHILLY [15:20]

PG: “Dr. J had a dope intro and story. He brought up how he joined the team, they ended up getting to the championship and lost one. Got to the championship again, lost. Got to the championship again, lost. He’s like ‘We just can’t get over the hump. Then they go ahead and trade for Moses Malone and win it. And he was like’ That was the missing piece. P, you the missing piece. So I was like man, where do I sign!”

  • PG ON JOEL EMBIID AND TYRESE MAXEY [16:38]

PG: “Yeah, I mean I think it was just a great collective conversation between the three of us. We haven’t all three been on at the same time, but I talked with Joel [Embiid], I talked with Tyrese. Tyrese man, one of the most mature kids in the league. He was just like, ‘man, I learned so much when Big Fella went down. It was a ton of pressure on me. I was able to see different defenses, kind of learned, grow.’ I’m like, man, yeah, 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 is a star. He’s got number one option capabilities and you need fresh legs, that liveliness that he has. Joel, simple. I’m going to space the floor for you. I’m going to do this, that, there’s so many ways we can play off one another. Like I said, I’ve never played with someone so big and dominant like that. Just he’s the best or one of the best centers in the league, bro. That’s a beast, Baby Shaq. Again, it’s a dream come true, like having a star point guard and a star big, that’s a crazy dynamic right there.”

  • PG SHARES HIS THOUGHTS ON WHY THE THE SIXERS READY TO COMPETE FOR A CHAMPIONSHIP [20:40]

PG: “Yeah, I mean I think Nick Nurse is as good as it gets with coaching. He’s won at many different levels. I already talked about how good Joel is and Tyrese is, and now you mix in myself, [Kelly] Oubre [Jr], I think we have a hell of a starting five and then we got veteran guys coming off the bench so we already have a recipe to be a really good team and then I think everybody wants to win. I think you have a good mixture of veterans and young guys. I think Jared McCain will help– really good player out of college. It is just a good mixture of everything…I know people take things out of context, like duh, I want to win a championship, but playing the right way means a lot as well. Celtics won the championship because they played the right way, that’s what I’m referring to is playing the right way– right brand of basketball that fits my game and my play style so that’s what I meant by that…ultimately winning a championship means the most and the only thing I’m trying to do at this point in my career”

  • PG OPENS UP ON THE DISCONNECT BETWEEN HIM AND THE CLIPPERS DURING HIS NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE TEAM [29:06]

PG: “Just to put it out there, I never wanted to leave LA. Initially, I was not trying to leave LA. LA is home, this is where I wanted to finish at, and I wanted to work as hard as possible to win one in LA. That was the goal, to be here and be committed to LA. As it played out though, the first initial deal was I thought kind of disrespectful, right and again, in all of this, no hard feelings, no love lost..it’s a business like you said. So the first initial deal was like two years, 60. So I’m like, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Two years, 60? That’s crazy! I’m not signing that. Now we’re getting into the negotiating– No, I’m not taking that deal and so they saying this, that we want you and Kawhi here long term, we want y’all to be here, all of this stuff right. Mind you this was before the season started…maybe October-ish when negotiations first started. As we kept going, it was like they would go up inches, inches, inches to where it was like 44-45 [million/year]…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 wind of what they’re going to give Kawhi 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 shit together. I’ll take what Kawhi got, I was cool with that and we were still taking less. Kawhi took less, so if Kawhi takes less, I’m not going to, it’s not about me being paid more than him. I’m going to take what he got. They didn’t want to do that…Let me get to the end of this year and we’ll discuss this again. We’ll pick up conversations again…. Season ends, I finish healthy. 74 games played and had one of my most efficient seasons. So now we going into negotiations and they bring it to 3 years, 150 [million]. Basically what they wanted to give Kawhi. So a part of me was still like, alright cool. 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 at the end of the year and it’s 3 years, 150 and I’m like alright, we’re in the ballpark. Now we can have a conversation. Still it still wasn’t about the money because when I went back to have the negotiation at the end of the year, I presented the 3 [years], 150, no trade…I’m taking less, but at least I know I’m here. They didn’t want to do no trade. They didn’t want to do that so then I’m like, all right, well then it only makes sense for me to do four years, 212 [million]. At least pay me my money. If y’all going to trade me, ya’ll going to trade me, but at least now I’m not in a situation where I could have got more, had I just gone a free agency, then just take this deal where y’all could ship me. They didn’t want to do that, so now I was like I’m open to entertaining what’s out there. I thought I played, 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. We couldn’t remain healthy as a unit, but I thought I did enough to earn that. They didn’t want to do it. So it was just a stalemate. We came to a stale[mate] and ultimately it was like, alright, that ship has sailed…I love Steve [Ballmer], I love 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 LA…Steve is a good dude. I love Steve as an owner, one of the best owners that I played for, but it’s a business I won’t take nobody’s word if they can’t put it in writing, right?”

  • PG ON TELLING KAWHI HIS DECISION TO LEAVE THE CLIPPERS [45:51]

Dallas: “P, I want to know, did you have any conversations with Kauai before you made the decision to leave the Clippers? When did you have that conversation and how did it go?”

PG: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely! I owed Kawhi that conversation. I called him up and was just like, man, listen, I think I’m going to go elsewhere. Conversations with the Clippers didn’t go how I wanted to. I kind of broke down how I told you guys how it all played out and we had that conversation and I was like, man, I got to do what’s best. He understood like ‘Go get your bag like P, go get your back. I can’t even be mad at you.’ I look at Kawhi as one of my best friends in this league. Somebody that I fuck with. Our families love each other. So it was tough to leave him just with how much I enjoyed being out there with him. That was one of a big decision too that weighed a lot on me was just, damn, I’m leaving my boy. But I had to have that conversation with him. We talked and he gave me his blessings of like, man, just go do what’s best for you.”

  • PG ON WHAT HE VALUED MOST DURING HIS TIME IN LA AND HIS MESSAGE TO THE CLIPPER NATION [45:51]

Jackie: “I want to know, what do you value most about your time in LA and what message do you have to say to your Clipper fans as you close this chapter?”

PG: “I mean, I just think that run we had when we went to the WCF was, obviously that’s the furthest a team went in Clippers history. I’m not one to dwell on shit that don’t mean nothing. We didn’t win so it doesn’t mean much. But that moment was the most, I felt like a Clipper my whole time. You know what I mean? It was life there. It was energy in it, you know what I mean? It was like, I don’t know, it was just like we felt we could beat anybody. That group felt like we was the best team regardless. We lost when Kawhi went down, that hurt us. But if he was healthy, we winning that year. You know what I mean? You could say the same thing for the bubble year. Everything is ifs and maybes and would’ve could of, I get that, gut when it comes down to a belief standpoint, that bubble year we were rolling before we went, before the bubble happened. It was anybody’s game at that point when we went in the bubble. But that year we felt it. We was coming together, we was connected, we figured out what our identity was and we was hooping. And then the year Kawhi got hurt, that was like, we felt like we felt like we still had enough, a couple plays here and there and we possibly beat Phoenix. But I think that was just the most enjoyable time right there. I thought we played basketball the right way. It was a fun game. It was fun to watch us. We played hard and that was probably the most connected we were. So that was one of my most memorable, and obviously I think a lot was special about this past season with four West Coast LA guys playing together. I thought that was awesome for the city. I wish we could have did something big and won on a larger scale because that was a hell of a story to be told if we could have won. But I enjoyed it, man. Again, I wanted to be here. I wanted to be here. I felt like in a way I was kind of forced to make a decision that was best for me. But yea, it played out how I was supposed to, I guess to the fans. I just want to say, man, I appreciate the fans here while I was in LA they held me down. They held the team down. One of the best fan bases. It says a lot when you have such a historic team like the Lakers who have won multiple titles and you still a Clippers fan. You know what I mean? It says a lot about the fandom behind being a Clipper fan and so ever indebted with just the love, the support with genuineness around me. It was fun. Lacing it up in front of them. I’m sad that I won’t go into the new arena with pure, elite Clippers fans packing that arena out. It’s bittersweet. I don’t know what reception I get coming back, but I do want to say I appreciate playing in front of the home crowd and embracing that playing for the city.”

  • PG OPENS UP ABOUT THE NEAR-DEAL WITH THE WARRIORS [1:00:17]

PG: “That was a real thing that was close to being done. That deal was close to being done from what I was being told on the situation, they was expressing just how much they wanted me there, how I could have fit in perfectly with Draymond [Green], Steph [Curry]. Klay [Thompson] probably would’ve stayed. [Brandin] Podziemski, [Jonathan] Kuminga, [Andrew] Wiggins. They didn’t know how or what package was going to be there to trade for me…[Kevon] Looney was going to be there and so it was very intriguing and 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’s a unicorn…So it was kind of like a good situation to be in the middle of, but ultimately the deal didn’t go through. I think Clippers didn’t want a certain trade deal that Warriors were willing to give and yeah, it just didn’t happen but it was close. It’d been dope, man. I was looking forward to it, if it happened”

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