Los Angeles Clippers star Paul George downplayed the Patrick Beverley subplot when the veteran guard faces off against his old team in the NBA play-in tournament.
"I'm not going through Pat," George told reporters. "We're going through the T-Wolves. This is not a Paul George vs. Pat Beverley match. This is not a Pat Bev vs. Clippers matchup. ... I'm not even going to make that the narrative."
The seventh-place Minnesota Timberwolves are locked in against the eighth-place Clippers for a matchup Tuesday in Minneapolis.
That will pit Beverley against his old team, and he might be carrying a bit of a chip on his shoulder given how he exited Los Angeles.
The 33-year-old explained on JJ Redick's Old Man and the Three podcast (via the Los Angeles Times' Andrew Greif) he wanted out once it became clear the Clippers weren't going to tender him the kind of contract he thought he deserved:
"I’m thinkin' this contact extension is going to be easy, walk in and they throw me a number that I felt like was borderline disrespectful. So the conversation started with [president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank], and it was a heated little conversation, and L Frank is my guy. … Man, love him to death, that's my guy. And I looked him in his face and told him and my agent, man, L Frank knows he has to trade me. If he can't pay me, gotta trade me. From that point he told me [to] give me my teams, and Minnesota was in my top three."
There doesn't appear to be any lingering bad blood. Both George and Reggie Jackson praised how much Beverley's contributions have helped to lift the Timberwolves:
Through 57 games, Beverley is averaging 9.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists. Beyond the box score, his confidence and blunt honesty have rubbed off on a team that missed the playoffs for three straight years.
"When he's on the floor, when he's on the bench, we have a different mentality," Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns said of Beverley, comparing his contributions to how Draymond Green influences the Golden State Warriors.
Winning a title is the ultimate goal for Minnesota this season. Qualifying for the first round—and stymying the Clippers in the process—would probably be a good consolation prize for Beverley if the Wolves fall short of that objective.