Paul George says chasing championships is not his priority: ‘It’s playing the right style of basketball’

Written by on June 20, 2024

Assuming LeBron James stays with the Lakers, the biggest free agent on the market this summer is Paul George. He is unrestricted and can go to any team that has the resources to add him, either via cap space or a sign-and-trade with the Clippers if George makes it clear he’s going to leave anyway. The Philadelphia 76ers have made it clear he’s their top target, and they just happen to have max salary-cap space. 

In May, the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Keith Pompey reported that the Clippers are “unwilling to offer George more than the three-year, $152.3 million extension [they] gave to Kawhi Leonard.” 

The Clippers can offer George his full max of $221 million over four years, but if they won’t go that far, and the 76ers will, would George leave Los Angeles for a shot at a championship alongside Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey

“At this point, I’m not even necessarily, this is not even about — people say chasing a championship, it’s not that. It’s playing the right style of basketball is what I’m chasing,” George recently said on his podcast. 

What does George mean by playing the right style of basketball? He didn’t elaborate. That quote you just read was the last thing he said and the podcast signed off. Obviously he wasn’t going to say anything that would actually betray his summer intentions, if he’s even leaning one direction or another at this point, but that’s pretty ambiguous. 

What team doesn’t play the right style of basketball according to its personnel? That’s a subjective thing. Kevin Durant said he went to the Warriors because he wanted to play in their ball and player movement system, which, at the time, was an entirely different system from that of pretty much any other team in the NBA. 

But now? There are pretty small differences from team to team and it’s based on personnel. In general, you have the teams that move the ball and the teams that play a more heliocentric style built around high-usage stars like Luka Doncic or Trae Young. George played with James Harden with the Clippers, but he’s no longer the totally ball-dominant player he was in his prime. 

You could understand a player of George’s caliber and age not wanting to stand around waiting for Luka or Trae to pass him the ball with seven seconds on the shot clock but with the teams expected to be in the running for George’s services, again, which of them plays the wrong style? 

He’s obviously fine with what the Clippers do. The Sixers, under Nick Nurse, play with a lot more tempo and pace built around Embiid as a hub and Maxey as a downhill attacker. The Orlando Magic would cater their offense to George because they don’t really have an offensive identity, but honestly, while George is saying he’s not prioritizing a championship, can you really see him leaving the Clippers for the Magic? Or the Houston Rockets, for that matter? 

Also, it’s not just about offense. In the same podcast, George noted how tough the Celtics are because everyone on the court can defend and switch across multiple positions. He’s likely looking equally at the defensive makeup of his potential destinations. In that case, Orlando might look pretty good if you add George’s offense. 

You never know in today’s NBA where a big-name player might end up. You can try to narrow it down to the teams with cap space, but where there’s a will, there’s a way. Whatever George’s preferred style of play, he didn’t expand on it. Saying “I want to play the right way” is sort of a way to say nothing at all. 

The post Paul George says chasing championships is not his priority: ‘It’s playing the right style of basketball’ first appeared on CBS Sports.


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