Kawhi Leonard & Paul George to the Clippers
The Free Agency frenzy rages on as we finally get to see where everyone's main target is going and Kawhi Leonard is going to the Los Angeles….. CLIPPERS! Sorry Lakers fans and he's not just doing that he's bringing another star in Paul George with him as part of a Sign and Trade so get excited Clippers fans!
Now there was a lot of speculation going on where exactly Kawhi was going to go. I heard everything from he's staying with the Raptors cause they won the championship, he wants to go to L.A. but to the L.A. Clippers because he wants to compete with LeBron not play with him, to usually credible ESPN analyst Chris Broussard saying from what he was being told, he would be SHOCKED if Kawhi signed anywhere but the Lakers. Well, I hope you're as shocked as he now is cause Kawhi is officially in L.A. but in a Clippers jersey.
It would have been great fun seeing a Big 3 of Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James and Anthony Davis tear through the League but biases aside you gotta admit just as a pure basketball fan this is great for the league! For the first time in a long time it actually feels like there's a great balance of power and the league feels absolutely wide open because of it, which is not only good for the OVERALL fans but also the NBA in general as the casual NBA fans can climb out from under their rocks now that their respective teams may have a chance.
The Clippers are a team of overachievers and even not being a fan of that team, you couldn't help but root for that squad cause that team could have easily said we don't have the talent to compete and tanked for potential stars in a loaded draft but they didn't lie down. They kept fighting and not only was that admirable, but their persistence paid off cause who needs tanking for players in the NBA Draft when players the caliber of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George fall into your laps out of nowhere! This team is not only loaded with guys you know are made out of the right stuff but now they also have two Superstar players and one of the best/most proven GM's in the league in Jerry West who we can only assume will add in other pieces around them to flesh out the team even better in the future.
In those two Superstars they are getting a 2 time champ in Kawhi Leonard, fresh off of his most impressive season leading the Toronto Raptors to their first Championship in Franchise History against the juggernaut Warriors. Granted, the Warriors were missing their best player and were banged up seemingly across the board, but Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors still had to take care of business with all the spotlight on them and Kawhi was the perfect calming presence to the rest of his Toronto team who before he arrived was only known to fold up like a lawn chair in those situations. This calm, cool and collective nature is the mass appeal to Leonard that goes with his numbers and abilities that everybody is in search of for their team and the Clippers I'm sure will be happy receivers of that characteristic. As good as the Clippers team was at being outmatched but being able to out-grit you if you will, you still need a guy you can rely on when the game is on the line and Kawhi will bring that to this feisty Clippers team.
And they got Paul George?!?! Now this is one I didn't see coming at all. Paul George coming off his best Season in the NBA seemed happy with Westbrook in OKC and granted he very well might have been but with limited information on why the trade took place, it makes you wonder exactly what went on to get him out of there, with players being more vocal and being more in this team up style of NBA we all know today. Either way the Clippers are getting another star player who actually posted better numbers than Kawhi across the board basically last year. George not known as a guy who can hit big shots also took significant strides in that area as well last year, out of nowhere, becoming one of the best closers in the league. Hopefully that wasn't just a one off kind of year and that is something he does from here on out with Kawhi in a Clippers jersey since he obviously has the talent to do so.
This is another sign and trade deal that will certainly shake up the NBA. Clippers just went from fringe 6-8 seed in the playoffs to title favorites depending on who you're talking to but no matter the way you see it you can't deny that the Clippers got a whole hell of a lot better in a hurry!
Kawhi Leonard signed a 4 year $ 142 M deal with the Clippers and averaged 26.6 PPG(Career High)/7.3 RPG (tied for Career High)/3.3 APG last year for the Toronto Raptors.
Paul George averaged 28.0 PPG(Career High)/8.2 RPG(Career High)/4.1 APG(tied for Career High) and also had a Career High in steals.