The temperatures may be in the high 70s in Los Angeles this weekend, but hell has frozen over. The Los Angeles Clippers may have just pulled off the free agent deal of the summer to completely dwarf city rival Los Angeles Lakers’ trade for Anthony Davis.
The Clippers have allegedly signed free agent Kawhi Leonard fresh off his NBA Finals Most Valuable Player performance. Paul George will join Leonard in a trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder, according to reports this weekend.
Leonard’s and George’s arrivals in LA are not confirmed, but could be by the time you read this. The moves follow on the heels of the Brooklyn Nets’ shock double free agent signing of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
The Clippers’ summer roster moves have not only come as a shock, but show the power in LA has shifted to their side. The young and exciting Clippers will be a breath of fresh air compared to the Lakers, who added Davis following his fallout with the New Orleans Pelicans in a trade.
The Lakers had hoped to sign Leonard as well. But with LeBron James as the team’s top player and go-to man in the crunch, it makes complete sense that Leonard would prefer joining the Clippers.
Leonard and George have long wanted to suit up for the same team. They grew up together in Southern California and have competed against one another for decades. The Clippers will give up a number of draft picks to land George from the Thunder, but his addition is worth the uncertainty when it comes to draft picks.
The Clippers’ front office has been working on this deal for nearly 18 months. Go back to January 2018 when the team traded Blake Griffin, Willie Reed, Brice Johnson, and a second-round draft pick to the Detroit Pistons for Avery Bradley, Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic, and a first-round and a second-round draft pick.
Griffin had taken the Clippers as far as he could. Although the trade sent shockwaves through the Clippers’ fanbase, the team made the playoffs last season. Now, with Leonard and George arriving 18 months on from trading Griffin, the Clippers are adding two franchise players that can take them to the promise land.
Leonard just turned 28 in June. He is still in the prime of his career, and though details of his contract have not been released, will most likely be with the Clippers for the next five years.
Last season, Leonard played his one and only year with the Toronto Raptors. Knowing they couldn’t re-sign him after the 2018-19 season, the San Antonio Spurs traded Leonard for DeMar DeRozan this time last summer. The trade worked out for the Raptors as they claimed their first NBA Championship.
Leonard averaged a career high 26.6 points per game along with a career high in rebounds per game with 7.3. He also averaged a career high in minutes played, 34.0, appearing in 60 games for the Raptors.
George also tallied a career high points per game average with 28.0. At one point during the NBA season, George and teammate Russell Westbrook were the most impressive duo in the Association.
A late season slide made the Thunder an afterthought, however, as they entered the playoffs as the six seed in the West. Oklahoma City were then thoroughly beaten four games to one in the first round by the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Clippers have a lot to be excited about for 2019-20. If deals for Leonard and George go through, the team will be able to build on their playoff appearance from last season. With the Golden State Warriors’ dynasty finished, or appearing that way for now, the Western Conference could be wide open for the Clippers to run through.