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Kawhi Leonard has shocked the world twice in less than a month. After leading the Toronto Raptors to their first NBA championship, he’s made the biggest news in free agency.
Leonard will go the Los Angeles Clippers instead of the big brother team Lakers. Not only is he taking his Finals MVP trophy to the Clippers but Paul George will be joining him after magically appearing on the trade block.
The Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder struck a deal for George and somehow kept negotiations a secret. Los Angeles will reportedly send Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Galllinari and a bunch of first round picks back to the Thunder in return for the six time all-star.
George averaged 28.0 points and 8.2 rebounds in his second season playing for OKC. He finished top three in MVP and Defensive Player of the year voting.
Leonard averaged 26.6 and 7.3 rebounds a game in his lone season in Toronto. He is lauded as the leagues best wing defender and a guy who can drop buckets in bunches.
The Clippers in one fell swoop have catapulted themselves to top of the contenders list. The league will now see the two best wing defenders simultaneously on the court together. That’s in itself will be impressive but they will be a tad bit more difficult than that to stop.
If you consider the Clippers already have instant offense in Lou Williams (20.0 points per game), that’s three guys that can take over a game offensively. The reigning sixth man of the year was the Clippers best player and his role will not even have to change.
Doc Rivers can now get creative with his lineups. Now the Clippers have as much bragging rights, if not more, than the Lakers. Now Leonard and George can both play in front their home town crowd.
Whatever this duo (or trio) will be called as a unit, I can’t see the path to defending them successfully. So whether it’s the battle for the L.A. news pages, the battle for the Western Conference, or even a battle for the NBA championship, it’s pretty clear what just happened. The Staples Center has a great chance of hosting the 2020 NBA Finals and it won’t be laced with purple and gold.