NBA Rumors: Could the Clippers hard-ball strategy result in a Sixers super team?

Kawhi Leonard, Paul George
Kawhi Leonard, Paul George / Harry How/GettyImages

The LA Clippers are currently battling for home-court advantage in the Western Conference with fewer than 15 games remaining, but an interesting sub-plot has emerged that has drawn increased attention.

The Clippers have yet to extend one of their best players ahead of a pivotal offseason. That has led to speculation from the likes of the Athletic's John Hollinger that Paul George could be pursued in the summer by several Eastern Conference teams.

Currently, the Philadelphia 76ers, the Charlotte Hornets, the Detroit Pistons, the Toronto Raptors, and the Washington Wizards are all expected to have significant cap space this offseason, and Hollinger suspects that one of those teams might make a run at George. The most obvious candidate would be the Sixers, who will have plenty of cap space and would have a use for George.

Are the LA Clippers playing hardball with Paul George?

The Clippers extending star Kawhi Leonard and then failing to agree to terms on a new deal with George is interesting, to say the least. Hollinger notes that if they had offered him a max deal, he would have likely already agreed to the extension.

That doesn't necessarily mean that PG-13 is leaving and playing elsewhere next season, but it suggests that the Clippers want him to show and prove himself in the playoffs. That seems reasonable but it could also backfire. Signing one star over the other might not send the right message and there is currently nothing stopping him from signing elsewhere this summer.

Another failed playoff run could convince the Clippers that it is not worth re-signing George to the max while also potentially causing him to reexamine his options. Would the prospect of him joining Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey in Philadelphia be enough to lure George away from the Clippers? We'll have to wait and see.

All in all, the Clippers decision not to extend George may be them wanting to see what their team can do in this year's playoffs. Depending on the outcome, it could help decide his future in LA.