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Clippers star Paul George’s bold take without Kawhi Leonard

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LA Clippers President of Basketball Operations Lawrence Frank spoke to a small group of reporters Friday morning to give status updates on his key players prior to the start of training camp. During the press conference, he spoke of Paul George’s mentality given that the All-NBA forward will be without his running mate in Kawhi Leonard for most (if not all) of the 2021-22 season.

“I think he’s looking forward to the challenge,” Frank said of George, per The Athletic’s Law Murray. “He’s been in this position before, in other places, probably more Indiana than Oklahoma City. But I think Paul has shown throughout his career that he’s more than capable to rise to the challenge. And I think as a competitor, obviously you’d love for Kawhi to be there from day one, but we also understand what we’re dealing with and he’s looking forward to it.”

George will no-doubt have his hands full while Leonard recovers from his ACL surgery, but Frank is right. George has proven he can be a no. 1 option on multiple successful teams, whether it be back in his Pacers days when he led Indiana to the Eastern Conference Finals or when he finished third in MVP voting as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2018-19. He’s a gifted shooter, an athletic finisher and an underrated passer at the small forward position (he averaged a career-high 5.2 assists last season). He’s also still a hound on the defensive end when engaged, with a proven ability to guard multiple positions and work well as a weak-side help defender in small-ball lineups.

George’s health will likely determine just how successful this Clippers team can be. If he misses significant time with an injury, LA could struggle mightily to create efficient offense. However, when he’s on the court, there’s no reason his elite two-way talent shouldn’t keep the Clippers competitive.

“We fully expect Paul to continue to be one of the best players in the world and to do whatever it takes to help the team win,” Frank said.