The race for Kawhi Leonard is finally over, and the underdog came out on top. Kawhi Leonard is coming back home to Southern California to play for the Los Angeles Clippers. They seemed like the underdog throughout, with multiple reports coming out stating that Kawhi was either going back to the Raptors or to the Lakers, but after 5 long days of anticipation, the 2019 Finals MVP made his decided on the Clippers. It was first reported by Yahoo Sports that Kawhi Leonard will sign a 4-year, $144 million max contract with the Los Angeles Clippers, which was later verified by league sources.
Per Adrian Wojnarowski, Oklahoma City are trading All-Star Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers for a record-setting collection of draft choices. The Clippers are sending the Thunder four unprotected first-round picks, one protected first-round pick, and two pick swaps. The Thunder will also obtain both Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari in return for Paul George.
According to Arian Wojnarowski, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George met earlier this week, and made it clear to the Clippers that acquiring one meant acquiring both. Paul George will be one of the best second options in the NBA, averaging a career high 28 points, as well as 8.2 rebounds and 4.1 assists, which earned him an All-NBA first team selection. Kawhi Leonard averaged career highs in both points and rebounds with 26.6 points and 6 rebounds, as well as 3.3 assists and 1.8 steals.
They’ll be without a doubt, one of the best defensive duos in the NBA, with 9 NBA All-Defense selections between the two. They’ve also accumulated 8 All-NBA selections, and 9 All-Star selections, making this one of the most accomplished duos in the NBA.
The Clippers will be an elite defensive team next year, with Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Patrick Beverly being known as some of the top defensive players in the league. They also have players like Montrezl Harrell and Ivica Zubac who showed that they can contribute positively defensively from the post. Lou Williams will also be able to provide hie elite scoring off the bench, which will help them keep momentum with their stars on the bench. Guys like JaMychal Green, Rodney McGruder, and Landry Shamet all have showed promise, and could contribute to this teams success.
The Thunder were going nowhere fast, so trading Paul George for quality pieces like SGA and draft picks was most likely the best long-term decision for them. Oklahoma City was almost a guaranteed first round exit every season, so retooling (or potentially rebuilding) seems like the best option for them going forward. Russell Westbrook’s future with Oklahoma City is reportedly uncertain, so they could potentially trade him away and completely rebuild.
The championship scene is unpredictable for the first time in years with teams like the Lakers, Clippers, 76ers and Bucks looking like early favorites, but teams like the Nuggets, Jazz, Trailblazers, and Rockets, could also potentially make some noise in the playoffs (with Kevin Durant injured Brooklyn doesn’t quite seem on that level just yet).
The Clippers made a huge investment in hopes that they can bring their first championship home. This trade could potentially come back to haunt the Clippers in the future, but with how wide open the NBA is right now, risks need to be taken (ie. The Raptors trading for Kawhi Leonard). They’ve always been known as the Lakers “little brother”, and while the Lakers will most likely be the favorites going into the 2019-2020 season, don’t be surprised if the Clippers bring home their first championship this season.