The Los Angeles Clippers are in the midst of one of the best seasons in their franchise's history. After a slow start following the James Harden trade, they have since gone 32-9 over their past 41 games. While the Harden trade has been a significant catalyst behind that success as well as Kawhi Leonard playing at an MVP level, none of this would be possible without Paul George, who was recently selected for his ninth All-Star Game.
George is giving the Clippers an efficient 22.5 points per night while providing his standard excellent defense, and if he has his way, the Clippers will bring the band back together next season as well. Harden will not be eligible for a new contract until after the season, but Leonard has already inked a three-year max extension, and George is eligible for one as well. He was asked after Saturday's win over the Detroit Pistons if there were any updates on that front, and while he offered no specifics, he indicated that signing quickly is "the goal."
It isn't clear at this time where exactly the holdup is coming from. Notably, the Clippers only extended Leonard for three years. This offseason, George will be eligible to sign for up to five in Los Angeles or four with another team, so perhaps the Clippers are trying to align the contracts of their two star forwards, but George is hoping for more security.
Given George's injury history, a bit of fear on the Clippers' side makes sense, but there is inherent danger in going into the postseason without a deal agreed to. If the Clippers win it all, they almost have to give George his full max. If things end badly? Then the Clippers risk losing him in free agency for nothing.
The Philadelphia 76ers are the most notable team with max cap space that will likely make a run at George if he reaches free agency, but Yahoo's Jake Fischer has also reported that there have been whispers about George's interest in possibly returning to the Indiana Pacers to play with Tyrese Haliburton and Pascal Siakam. The Pacers will not have cap space this offseason, but they could theoretically land George in a sign-and-trade with the Clippers.
The Clippers look like a possible championship favorite right now, and George is an essential part of that recent success. The longer he goes without signing an extension, the riskier things get for the Clippers. It is in everyone's best interests to get a deal done soon, but so far, they have been unable to do so.