Paul George and the Los Angeles Clippers were eliminated from the playoffs last week by the Denver Nuggets.
Following the defeat, George spoke out in the locker room and urged his teammates to stay committed and come back in 2020-21 ready for a title run.
Unfortunately, not all of his teammates were receptive to the message. Or, more specifically, the messenger.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, George’s comments were met “by some eye rolls and bewilderment.”
The friction between George and some of his Clippers teammates seemed to stem from clashes he had with them throughout the playoffs, as well as his general lack of culpability when it came to his role in their cumulative failures.
“For his part, Paul George had a disappointing series against Denver, and had several moments that left him in compromising positions with his teammates — beyond just his production,” Charania noted.
“Multiple teammates had verbal spats with George throughout the postseason, citing in their exchanges a lack of accountability from him.”
As 76ers GM Elton Brand leads head coaching search, the franchise expects to bring shortlist of candidates — including Mike D’Antoni, Billy Donovan, Ty Lue — to Philadelphia area for next round of interviews.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) September 21, 2020
George scored just 10 points on 4 of 16 shooting from the field and 2 of 11 shooting from beyond the arc in the Clippers’ final game of the season.
For the playoffs, he averaged 20.2 points on 39.8 percent shooting from the field and 33 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
Those numbers were down considerably from the 44 percent he shot from the field and 41 percent he shot from beyond the arc in the regular season.
After his team’s collapse against Denver, George tried to downplay the magnitude of the disappointment he and the Clippers had just experienced.
“It was obvious pressure to live up to the title expectations. But as a player, I mean, you want that. It’s the first time I’ve been in that situation where we’re expected to win,” he said.
“But it is what it is. It’s no cop out. The fact of the matter is, we didn’t live up to that expectation. But I think internally, we’ve always felt, this is not a championship-or-bust year for us. We can only get better the longer we stay together and the more we’re around each other.
“The more chemistry as a group, the better. I think that’s really the tale of the tape of this season. We just didn’t have enough time together.”
LeBron isn’t one to bite his tongue. https://t.co/QILph6dG2v
— Game 7 (@game7__) September 21, 2020
When George was pressed on whether LA’s roster needed tweaking, he insisted that it did not.
“None. None. It’s our first year together,” he replied.
“You can’t even say we want to change our roster. We like what we’ve got. I mean, we’ve been saying it all year. It’s just about chemistry, being together.
“The more we can be together, the better we’ll be. It’s year one. We’ve got a lot to reflect on. A lot to look at going forward and to get better with.”
A tough situation all around. https://t.co/R0ufvolXKE
— Game 7 (@game7__) September 20, 2020
The Clippers have an immensely talented team that seemed to underperform badly this year. It could be a case of first-year jitters, something the LeBron James-led Miami Heat struggled with in their first season together with him, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
Or it could be something more.
It is one thing to fall short in the playoffs, but there seems to be legitimate beef in the Clippers locker room right now.
Will they be able to sort it between now and next season? They better. Because if they don’t, this group could quickly go down as the most disappointing super team in NBA history.