Paul George breaks free agency with contract with the Philadelphia 76ers

Paul George will return to the Eastern Conference, and surely made Joel Embiid very happy in the process.

George will sign a four-year, $212 million contract with the Philadelphia 76ers, a person familiar with the move told The Associated Press on Monday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal cannot be finalized by NBA officials until July 6.

The move was finalized just hours after the start of NBA free agency, but Embiid, the Philadelphia center and the 2022-23 NBA MVP, began planting the seeds for this at least a couple weeks ago. He and George made a television appearance together during the NBA Finals, one in which the Philadelphia center suggested he’d like to see the veteran wing join him with the 76ers.

And it happened. The Los Angeles Clippers, now George’s former team, said Sunday night that he would not be returning to them in the future, and from there, it was just a matter of the nine-time All-Star working out terms with the 76ers.

“Paul has informed us that he is signing his next contract with another team,” the Clippers said in a statement.

“We negotiated for months with Paul and his manager on a contract that would make sense for both parties, and we came away very far apart. The gap was significant. We understand and respect Paul’s decision to look elsewhere for his next contract.”

George had a $48.8 million option for next season but did not exercise it, entering free agency, which opened Sunday night. There was thought to be a chance George and the Clippers could still have done something, but the team has made it clear those hopes are gone.

“We will miss Paul,” the Clippers said.

At 34, George remains elite, averaging 22.6 points last season, the ninth consecutive season he has averaged at least 20 points per game.

Meanwhile, James Harden will remain with the Clippers on a two-year contract that includes a player option, a person with knowledge of the decision told AP on Sunday.

Harden’s deal, which could be worth as much as $70 million if he opts out in 2025-26, was agreed to in principle before free agency technically began, said the person who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because neither Harden nor the Clippers had announced the deal.

Harden, a 10-time NBA All-Star, averaged 16.6 points and 8.5 assists last season for the Clippers, who will move into their new home, the Intuit Dome, when next season begins.

Chris Paul will not continue with Warriors

Elsewhere, veteran guard Chris Paul will join rookie of the year Victor Wembanyama in San Antonio on a one-year deal, a person with knowledge of that deal said.

Paul was released Sunday by the Golden State Warriors, who would have had to pay him $30 million for next season. ESPN reported that the Spurs will pay Paul about $11 million. Paul, 39, averaged 9.2 points and 6.8 assists in 58 games with the Warriors last season.