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Paul George leaves the Clippers and joins the 76ers, James Harden is back in

Clippers forward Paul George casts a glance toward a referee after a call during a game last season.
Paul George and the Clippers could not agree on a contract extension, leading the nine-time All-Star forward to leave the team during free agency.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
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The Clippers and Paul George were unable to agree on contract terms, so the two will part ways after five years.

George’s agent, Aaron Mintz of CAA, met with Lawrence Frank, the Clippers’ president of basketball operations, Sunday afternoon but no deal could be reached.

Early Monday morning, George reached a deal with the Philadelphia 76ers that included a coveted fourth year he could secure from the Clippers. Philadelphia offered George a four-year, $212 million contract, according to ESPN and The Athletic.

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The Clippers opened free agency Sunday by agreeing with guard James Harden on a two-year, $70-million contract to return, according to people with knowledge of the deal not authorized to speak on the matter.

The Clippers also agreed with free-agent guard Kevin Porter Jr. on a two-year deal, which includes a player option, according to the same people. In addition, former Mavericks forward Derrick Jones Jr. agreed to a three-year, $30-million deal with the team, per people with knowledge of the agreement not authorized to speak publicly.

Players can’t officially sign deals until Friday at 9:01 p.m. PDT

The Clippers had been willing to give George a three-year extension for $152 million, the same deal Kawhi Leonard agreed to during last season. But George was looking for a four-year deal worth up to $221 million.

George turned his attention to the 76ers, whom he met with Sunday night.

The Clippers draft Minnesota guard Cam Christie, the brother of Lakers guard Max Christie, with the No. 46 pick of the 2024 NBA draft.

June 27, 2024

“Paul has informed us that he is signing his next contract with another team,” Frank said in a statement issued to reporters Sunday. “Paul is a tremendous talent and an elite two-way player. We feel fortunate for the five years we spent with him.”

George, a nine-time All-Star, played in 74 games last season, the most since joining the Clippers in 2019. He averaged 22.6 points and 5.2 rebounds while shooting a career-high 41.3% from three-point range.

He averaged 19.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists in a first-round playoff series loss against the Dallas Mavericks.

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Harden averaged 16.6 points and 8.5 assists while shooting 42.8% from the field, 38.1% from three-point range, in 72 games with the Clippers.

He led the Clippers in scoring (21.2) and assists (8.0) in the series against Dallas.

“We think James has been terrific for us when we obtained him five games into the season,” Frank said Thursday. “Thought he had a terrific season. … He’s been great in terms of even the offseason, coming in, working out, coming in two-a-days, getting extra work in.”

Clippers guard James Harden, center, splits the defense of Dallas’ P.J. Washington, left, and Daniel Gafford for a layup.
Clippers guard James Harden splits the defense of Dallas’ P.J. Washington, left, and Daniel Gafford for a layup during Game 2 of their playoff series in April.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Harden, who will turn 35 in August, was acquired by the Clippers from Philadelphia in October after a falling out with Daryl Morey, the 76ers’ president of basketball operations, over Harden’s contract situation.

Harden believed he had earned a larger contract than the one under which he was playing. He eventually called Morey “a liar” regarding contract negotiations and demanded a trade, saying, “I will never be a part of an organization that he’s a part of.”

In four years in the NBA — three with the Houston Rockets — Porter averaged 15.3 points and shot 44.2% from the field.

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After Porter was arrested last Sept. 11 for allegedly assaulting a female companion at a New York City hotel, the Houston Rockets banned him from team-related activities. The Rockets traded Porter to the Oklahoma City Thunder, who waived him.

Porter spent last season playing in Greece.

Former league MVP Russell Westbrook, also a nine-time All-Star, opted into the final year of his contract, worth $4 million, as did forward P.J. Tucker, whose deal is worth $11.5 million.

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