The Los Angeles Clippers' season came to an end nearly a week ago, but the fallout continues from their embarrassing collapse in the second round, in which they blew a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets. The latest report gives some insight into the scene in the locker room following their Game 7 loss.
As the team tried to make sense of what happened, Paul George gave a speech in which he implored the group to stay together and come back next season to chase a championship again. It was not well received by teammates, according to a report from Shams Charania of The Athletic:
Multiple teammates had verbal spats with George throughout the postseason, citing in their exchanges a lack of accountability from him.
In the postgame locker room Tuesday night, George was preaching to teammates to remain committed, for all the players to return to the team this offseason and stay ready to make another run. It was met by some eye rolls and bewilderment, sources said, because George did not back up his words with action in the series and the team has multiple free agents with decisions to make. George scored 10 points on 4 of 16 shooting and 2 of 11 from 3-point range in the Game 7 defeat.
"We can only get better the longer we stay together and the more we're around each other," George said after the game. "I think that's really the tale of the tape of this season. We just didn't have enough time together."
As Charania notes, George was a disaster in Game 7, along with Kawhi Leonard. And not only did George have more turnovers (5) than made baskets (4) in the game, he didn't score in the fourth quarter, as the Clippers gave up yet another double-digit lead.
While George was pretty solid for most of the series against the Nuggets, his run-ins with teammates and poor play when it mattered most make it unsurprising that other players weren't interested in hearing a "rah-rah" speech from him at their lowest point. And as a singular event, this really isn't that big of a deal. Co-workers being annoyed with each other in a stressful moment happens all the time, especially in sports.
The problem for the Clippers is that little issues like his were a common occurrence for them, with whispers about their chemistry issues starting just a few months into the season. Initially, it seemed like their talent would win out, and that even if they weren't all best friends, they would be good enough to still win a title. That was obviously not the case, and it appears these issues are serious enough to where the Clippers will have to address them in the offseason.