- Mamadou Tall
Kawhi Shakes Up the NBA Without Saying a Word
If the first day of the NBA’s free agency frenzy wasn’t crazy enough, it just got even wilder.
The long five day wait that Kawhi Leonard had the NBA in, is finally over. He decided to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers and that’s not all that happened. Somehow the Clippers managed to successfully trade for star player Paul George of the Oklahoma City Thunder, after signing Kawhi Leonard.
The move was done and announced in true Kawhi Leonard fashion. Discrete and at a time when not everyone would be able to find out immediately. At 1:55 a.m. eastern time, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski blessed everyone’s twitter feed with news about the signing.
A common and logical assumption with the Clippers trading for Paul George is they probably lost a lot of their depth. Surprisingly, that’s not the case at all. Five future first round picks (four unprotected and one protected), Danillo Gallinari, and Shai Gligeous-Alexander was what it took to pull off this power move. The same Clippers team that took the Golden State Warriors with a healthy Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green to six games two months ago. That same team added two premiere two way players in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George and only lost some future first round picks, an injury prone Gallinari, and a young Gilgeous-Alexander.
Kawhi Leonard had the fate of the league in his colossal hands in free agency. Any move he made would have severely impacted the 2019–2020 NBA season. If he joined the Los Angeles Lakers, all parity in the league would be destroyed again similarly to what we saw in Golden State with the Warriors. If he would have stayed with the Toronto Raptors the Eastern Conference would see the Raptors stay as the top contenders. Kawhi’s choice of joining the Clippers was perfect for the league whether people like it or not. Kawhi’s move brought parity back to the league and it’s going to be here for a while thanks to him.
Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn, LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the L.A. Lakers, and Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in the same building as them with the Clippers. This upcoming season will be nothing short of spectacular and entertaining. Although Kawhi Leonard isn’t the one for theatrics and drama; he certainly brought a whole lot of it into the offseason. All types of questions are being asked because of what the Kawhi and the Clippers managed to pull off.
First things first, why did the Oklahoma City Thunder agree to trade Paul George? Did their general manager, Sam Presti, no longer have faith in the duo that was Russell Westbrook and Paul George? Are the Thunder about to start a rebuild, and will Westbrook be placed on the trade block in result?
Better yet, where do the Lakers go from here? They put all their efforts in landing Kawhi Leonard and ultimately missed out on many other solid free agents. Where does the Lakers general manager, Rob Pelinka, go from here? What’s next for the Lakers?
The biggest turn around happened to the Toronto Raptors who went from NBA champions to maybe not even being contenders next season. Kawhi carried them to the top of the NBA and now he has left them to fall back to where they were before he got there. What will Masai Ujiri and their front office do after this? They traded all star Demar Derozan for Kawhi who ended up being a one year rental. Only positive they can take away from this is the NBA championship they just won with that one year rental. The Raptors have seemingly fallen back down to no man’s land weeks after winning the NBA championship.
Having never made a conference finals, the Clippers were considered a cursed franchise and overnight their fortunes have changed completely (literally). Next season coach Doc Rivers is able to roll out a lineup that will almost instantly make them contenders. The lineup consists of hard nosed defender Patrick Beverly, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, solid forward Maurice Harkless, and the young Ivica Zubac. Not to mention they have the reigning Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams and sharp shooter Landry Shamet to come off their bench. The Clippers have the potential to be the best defensive team in the league next season and a nightmare for other teams in the league.
Kawhi signing with the L.A. Clippers ended everyone’s waiting and anticipation, but now it has brought about questions, drama, and entertainment. Without saying a word, Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers have brought a whole new energy back to the NBA. The “Board Man” got paid and silently shook up the league in the process.