The NBA was set on fire when Kawhi Leonard spurned the Los Angeles Lakers and found a way to team up with Paul George on the Los Angeles Clippers.
George ended up on the Clippers due to a massive blockbuster deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
With this deal, George and Leonard will be playing for the Clippers for years to come, something that might’ve been seen as impossible when both players individually requested trades to the Lakers in the past two seasons. This pair of deals also ensured NBA parity for the foreseeable future.
While a majority of the NBA was stunnned, perhaps the most blindsided by all of this was the Lakers. However, it’s not that Leonard chose the Clippers that shocked them, it’s how the Thunder allowed it to happen, according to Arash Markazi of Los Angeles Times:
Lakers contingent is upset Kawhi Leonard chose the Clippers obviously but more shocked the Thunder paved the way with the Paul George trade. Completely blindsided by that.
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) July 6, 2019
While it may seem surprising to some the Thunder would allow George and Leonard to pair up, it’s completely understandable why they did it. The Clippers offered the Thunder an unprecedented haul of draft picks, along with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari’s expiring contract, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Oklahoma City is trading All-Star Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers for a record-setting collection of draft choices, league sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 6, 2019
In total, the Thunder received seven first round draft picks from the Clippers. Reportedly, it was the Clippers’ own 2022, 2024, and 2026 draft picks unprotected, the Miami Heat’s 2021 first round pick unprotected, their 2023 first round pick protected, and pick swaps in both 2023 and 2025. If that ends up being the case, that’s the largest draft haul in league history — a deal that no general manager could turn down.
It’s fair for the Lakers to be shocked as they played the waiting game for a whole week, only to be spurned in perhaps the most gut-wrenching way possible. But the Clippers and Thunder both made deals they simply had to make to move forward. It’s now even being said that the Thunder may look to trade Russell Westbrook.
The Lakers can take solace in the fact that they have LeBron James and Anthony Davis and have made a slew of very good signings since the Leonard news broke. Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, JaVale McGee, and Quinn Cook will all be wearing purple and gold for the 2019-20 NBA season.