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NBA exec on Los Angeles Clippers’ current messy situation: ‘They’re a train wreck’

The Los Angeles Clippers took a big swing in acquiring stars Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, however, that strategy has turned into a miserable failure that could set the franchise back for several more seasons.

When billionaire Steve Ballmer purchased the Los Angeles Clippers the expectation was that the energetic new NBA owner would do all he could to take the team from being a playoff contender to a serious championship threat.

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In 2019, the organization took a major step toward that pursuit when they signed multi-time champion Kawhi Leonard and acquired All-Star Paul George. On paper, the duo had the sort of talent and pedigree to finally bring the franchise that started in 1970 its first NBA title. And at first, it seemed like they had built the right culture toward that goal.

However, it all changed when Leonard tore his ACL in the 2021 NBA Playoffs. While the five-time All-Star was already developing a resume of piling up injuries before then, it seemed to be a tipping point for his health going forward to where he is now a player that is on the bench in street clothes as much as he is in uniform.

Los Angeles Clippers record (’22-’23): 44-38

los angeles clippers
Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The same could be said for Paul George who has played no more than 56 games in a season during his four years with the Los Angeles Clippers.

It all seemed to come to a head in April when both suffered injuries a week apart that again sunk their chances of advancing in the NBA Playoffs. It has placed a dark cloud over the Los Angeles Clippers organization as both seem on steep career declines but have multiple years and large sums of money left on their contracts.

The Los Angeles Clippers situation heading into the summer was something Heavy.com NBA insider Steve Bulpett spoke with an NBA executive about this week, and that league decision-maker suggested the franchise likely has a broken culture they won’t be able to fix any time soon.

“I’m not sure what they can do. They’re not going to get value for those guys [Leonard and George] in any sort of deal. They just miss too many games, and that’s ruined the culture. It’s ruined the culture of the Clippers. Not knowing from night to night if you’re going to have PG or Kawhi just killed them. They didn’t know who was playing on any given night. It’s a train wreck. They’ve got some really good character guys on their team, but the culture is bad.”

– Anonymous NBA executive

Kawhi Leonard and Paul George both have two seasons and over $90 million left on their deals. They each have player options in 2023-2024 they will likely opt into.

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