NBA Hoops

Clippers wish to keep core and build around George, Harden and Leonard

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Next year should be an exciting time for the Clippers, especially as they are set to start the following campaign playing at their new home, the Intuit Dome. Despite being eliminated in the playoffsโ€™ first round, they showed many moments of brilliance throughout the season and hope to keep their roster core intact.

The teamโ€™s president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank assured that they are already working towards retaining stars Paul George and James Harden, as they expect to keep them close to Kawhi Leonard, and build a team around them.

While George has a player option on $48.8 million due next year and could become a free agent, Harden is set to be an unrestricted free agent. Reports suggest that the point guard is waiting to see what happens with his star teammate before deciding on his future in Los Angeles.

โ€œWeโ€™d like to be able to bring back and retain Paul and James,โ€ Frank said this week. โ€œWeโ€™re hopeful we can, but also understand and respect the fact that theyโ€™re free agents. Paul has a decision with his option. James will be an unrestricted free agent, so our intent is to bring him back, but also realize that theyโ€™re elite players and theyโ€™ll have choices.โ€

Just as the team had been eliminated in Game 6 by the Mavericks, Paul was consulted about his future with the Clippers. โ€œYeah,โ€ he said about building a team with James and Kawhi. โ€œIf it works that way, absolutely.โ€

The veteran participated in 74 regular-season games this campaign, which are the most heโ€™s every competed in his five years in California. โ€œWe want Paul, we value Paul,โ€ Frank said. โ€œPaulโ€™s done some tremendous things here. Heโ€™s an elite player, and our biggest thing is we always want to be able to treat players well and pay them fairly, and we also have to build out a team, especially, this is a new CBA.โ€

โ€œBut in terms of the exact money, I would never go into details other than weโ€™ve had really, really good conversations over the course of the year and hopeful that we can get him to remain a Clipper,โ€ the executive said about the athlete who posted averages of 22.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and a career-high 41.3% from beyond the arc.

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