The Los Angeles Clippers openly acknowledged that chemistry issues contributed to their disappointing early exit from the NBA playoffs, and we are starting to learn more about those locker room problems.
Jovan Buhan published an outstanding feature for The Athletic this week that examined what went wrong with the 2019-20 Clippers. In it, Buhan detailed how Kawhi Leonard and Paul George received preferential treatment, which was a big change from the structure the 2018-19 Clippers were accustomed to as a group of overachieving players without any real star power.
Before every game last season, the Clippers’ training staff spent roughly 20 to 45 minutes creating a private space for Leonard to go through his pregame routine. That private space reportedly occupied the female staffers’ locker room at times both on the road and at Staples Center, which made some Clippers players and staffers “uneasy.”
While the treatment Leonard received was clearly excessive at times, Buhan says his teammates largely accepted it because Kawhi is a two-time NBA champion and two-time NBA Finals MVP. George also received some preferential treatment with regard to practice schedules and time off, but Clippers players did not view it the same way. Multiple sources told Buhan that George’s teammates had a, “What have you accomplished in the playoffs?” attitude toward him.
The entire feature is worth reading, as it provides incredible detail about the road leading up to an early Orlando exit and Doc Rivers leaving the Clippers.
George is obviously a phenomenal player, but you need look no further than his playoff elimination game stats to know how he has struggled in the postseason. Leonard, on the other hand, has carried multiple teams to titles. You can understand why teammates did not view them as being on equal ground.
Paul George offered up a telling assessment of the Los Angeles Clippers’ collapse against the Denver Nuggets.
The Clippers had Denver down 3-1 in the Western Conference Semifinals before losing three straight to drop the series. The Nuggets were down double digits in both Games 5 and 6 as well, but the Clippers collapsed late. In Game 7, the team simply could not score down the stretch.
In an interview with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson’s “All The Smoke” podcast, George admitted the Clippers hadn’t bothered to make any adjustments during those games, even though the same things kept happening.
“During that whole process, we never worked on adjustments,” George revealed. “We never worked on what to do different. We just literally having the same s— happen over and over again. It started to play a trick on you, like, man, what’s going on?
“We talking amongst each other, like, we’re gonna be alright. The conversations should have been like nah, we need to change. We need to switch this up. At the end of the day, I don’t think we deserved it. We wasn’t prepared enough going into it. Just us making adjustments. We wasn’t prepared. We didn’t put the work into it.”
George also once again brought up issues with team chemistry, citing the fact that he had barely practiced all year and thus did not get the opportunity to jell with his new teammates.
Ultimately, it’s not a huge shock to hear this. The Clippers looked dysfunctional in those three games. Games 5 and 6 were almost identical in terms of how the team lost. Nothing ever changed, even though it was clear that the team’s mentality was doing the players no favors.
Maybe George was one of the players behind this report about Doc Rivers’ decisionmaking.
Paul George beat the Internet at their own game this week.
The LA Clippers forward announced his recent engagement to girlfriend Daniela Rajic in a post to Instagram on Thursday. In his caption, George hilariously included the hashtag #SheGotARingFirst.
The couple, who have two children together, shared some pictures of their engagement earlier this week.
Indeed, George, a ten-year league veteran, has never won a championship, only making it as far as the conference finals round with the Indiana Pacers back in 2013 and 2014. That makes him a prime target for trolls, especially in conjunction with his more recent playoff struggles. To his credit though, George was quicker to the punch this time around.
Paul George is officially engaged.
The Los Angeles Clippers forward got engaged to his girlfriend Daniela Rajic on Friday. The two shared some photos on their Instagram Stories of the proposal.
Based on Rajic’s Instagram, George and Rajic headed to Mexico on a private plane for a vacation. Upon arriving, Rajic appeared to be surprised that a few of her friends were also there.
George proposed with some flower pedals spread around the outdoor deck and floor. A Mariachi band was around to play music as part of the celebration.
Paul and Rajic have been involved since at least 2014, which is when she served him with a paternity suit. The two have two children together.
Rajic actually came up as part of a beef between George and Damian Lillard during the NBA season in August (full story here).
George, 30, just completed his 10th season in the NBA and first with the Clippers. He averaged 21.5 points, 5.2 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game last season.
Shaquille O’Neal thinks the Los Angeles Clippers need to make a big move this offseason.
Shaq was talking on his “The big podcast with Shaq” for an episode published on Wednesday. In the episode, the hosts talked about the Clippers, and that’s when Shaq shared his thoughts.
“They have to get rid of someone,” Shaq said, referring to Paul George.
“You gotta use [George] to get two good, solid players. Because I need Kawhi to be the man. I don’t want Kawhi to delegate. When Kawhi was with Toronto, he knew he was the man, everybody knew he was the man. Now you got one guy that thinks he’s the man, one guy that is the man. They got a guy coming off the bench that knows he’s the man.
“It may look good in certain games, but when you need to slow the game down and do certain things, it never works.”
The Clippers traded Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and half a dozen draft picks to get George from the Thunder and convince Kawhi to sign with them. Leonard wanted to play with George. It’s on them to make it work, especially after they handpicked the pairing.
The Clippers already made one big move this offseason. It would be a massive shock to see them follow Shaq’s advice.
How does a team that began the season with championship aspirations find themselves listening to Paul George preach about loyalty after a catastrophic second-round defeat? The answer is because that team is the Los Angeles Clippers.
Since the Clippers’ arrival in Los Angeles, they have effectively filled the role of little brother to the iconic Los Angeles Lakers. Following the Clippers’ most recent postseason blunder, the Lakers now possess a prime opportunity to capture their record-tying 17th NBA championship, while their crosstown rivals have still yet to crack the code on advancing to the Western Conference Finals.
After acquiring Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the Clippers were supposed to finally exorcise the playoff demons that have haunted the franchise. Instead, the duo of All-Stars co-authored arguably the most painful playoff series loss in the franchise’s extensive history of painful playoff losses.
The team has already made a big move by firing Doc Rivers as head coach. Now they will look to maximize their potential next season.
But before the Clippers can move forward and set their sights to next season, they must revisit the events that transpired this year.
When they try to examine what went wrong, they must discover what is to blame. Here is our look at the culprits most at fault for the Clippers’ devastating series loss to the Denver Nuggets.
Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer was the one who made the decision to part ways with head coach Doc Rivers this week, but he did not make the move without first talking to his star players.
ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Ohm Youngmisuk shared some details on Tuesday from the days leading up to the divorce between Rivers and the Clippers. Ballmer and Rivers had multiple phone conversations over the course of more than a week following L.A.’s collapse against the Denver Nuggets, and Ballmer was left wondering if the franchise needed a new voice. Before he made a final decision, he spoke with president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank and team consultant Jerry West. Ballmer also reportedly sought opinions from several players, including Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
It’s unclear if Leonard and/or George vouched for Rivers, but Shelburne and Youngmisuk were told that nothing either play said changed Ballmer’s mind.
Ballmer bought the Clippers in 2014 and admitted he knew very little about running an NBA team at the time. He vowed to take his time and learn about the organization before making any major changes, but those close to him felt it was a matter of time before he put his stamp on the franchise.
The Clippers twice blew 3-1 leads in playoff series under Rivers. The collapse against Denver in Orlando was troubling enough, but the remarks made by Rivers and Clippers players after the series are likely what cost the coach his job.
George and Lou Williams pointed to chemistry as an issue for the Clippers. George also made some head-scratching comments about the team not having a championship-or-bust mentality despite their huge offseason moves.
Rivers made some strategic decisions in the postseason that reportedly left players scratching their heads, but the chemistry issues were likely far more of a concern for Ballmer. Time will tell if the decision to fire Rivers was the right one. We have already heard of some big-name candidates who could potentially replace him.
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Paul George made some remarks after the Los Angeles Clippers’ brutal meltdown against the Denver Nuggets that were not well-received by fans or the media, and it sounds like the same was true in his own locker room.
George addressed the Clippers in the locker room following their Game 7 loss to the Nuggets last week. He spoke about remaining committed in the coming months and refocusing for a championship run next season. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the comments were “met by some eye rolls and bewilderment.” One of the reasons for that is that George played poorly in the series against Denver. He completely disappeared in Game 7, scoring just 10 points on 4-of-16 shooting and 2-of-11 from three-point range.
Charania also noted that George had multiple verbal spats with teammates during the postseason, as Clippers players reportedly felt he was not holding himself accountable.
The Clippers gave up several draft picks to acquire George in a trade last offseason. They should have been thinking about immediately contending for a championship after trading for George and signing Kawhi Leonard. However, George said after the Clippers blew a 3-1 series lead against Denver that he and his teammates did not have a championship-or-bust mentality this year.
George also indicated that the Clippers had some chemistry issues, and it certainly sounds like he was at the center of some of those.
George got off to a slow start in Orlando before opening up about the mental struggles he experienced in the bubble. He then began to play better, but he had a couple of terrible games against Denver. One of them was in Game 7, and his recent elimination game stats show that has become a theme.
The picture that is forming of the Los Angeles Clippers’ internal chemistry after their playoff collapse is not a pretty one.
According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, Paul George and Montrezl Harrell got into a verbal confrontation during a timeout in Game 2 that saw Harrell call out George. It was a key incident that demonstrated that Clippers players were never quite on the same page.
George committed two turnovers in less than a minute in that game. The second was a careless half-court pass to Harrell, who was surrounded in the paint. On the way to the huddle during a timeout, Harrell approached George about the pass, but George blamed Harrell and said the pass could have been caught had the big man made the right play.
That infuriated Harrell, who called out George by saying something similar to “you’re always right. Nobody can tell you nothing.” A heated argument followed with both players using expletives, and Harrell did not calm down even after George backed off a bit.
George in particular seemed to respond to the Clippers’ predicament differently than many of his teammates. His comments after Game 7 were, according to Haynes, not shared by the rest of the Clippers. George also continued his brutal record in elimination games with a 10-point performance in the decisive Game 7.
Perhaps things will be better for the Clippers in year two of the George-Kawhi Leonard era. Maybe they’ll have addressed the issues that need to be fixed. It’s a big worry, however, and it’s far from the only issue this team faces.
Paul George had one of his worst games of the postseason when the Los Angeles Clippers were eliminated by the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night. Going ice cold in an elimination game is never ideal, but unfortunately it’s something George has grown accustomed to.
George scored just 10 points on 4-of-16 shooting. He was 2-of-10 from three-point range. As ESPN’s Royce Young noted, George has not played well at all in the last five games in which his team was facing elimination.
George was extremely open about the mental struggles he went through early in the playoffs this year, which led to less-than-stellar play. He appeared to turn things around at one point, but he shot less than 40 percent from the field overall in the postseason. That is one of the reasons the Clippers fell so far short of expectations.
Between his recent track record in elimination games and the comments he made after the Clippers’ loss, fans in L.A. have to be concerned about George’s ability to help them win a title.