If for most of the NBA lovers the most awaited fate for Kawhi Leonard was the Lakers, what happened on Friday was surprising. Kawhi decided his future and he is still heading to Los Angeles, but to play for the LA Clippers.
NBA: Kawhi Leonard: Heading to Los Angeles!
Kawhi had, on this NBA transfer deadline, the power of completely mess up the projections made for next season. On a period of a lot of surprises regarding signings and switches, only his decision was left for the balance of the favourites to be fulfilled.
Of all the possible outcomes, those that appeared to be the most likely ones would be the Los Angeles Lakers or staying as the biggest star of the Toronto Raptors. The Clippers appeared as an unlikely alternative, because they didn’t have a lot to offer to this player.
In Toronto, Kawhi was a true king. He led the franchise to their first NBA finals and to the unprecedented title, writing their name in the history books as the first Canadian team to win an NBA title.
The team would remain competitive, and he could bargain his salary as much as possible.
At the Lakers, the possibility of forming a very strong defence with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, alongside Kyle Kuzma. There, besides winning a lot of money, he would lead the franchise to the status of absolute favourites for next season.
Kawhi opted not to stay in Toronto, maybe due to the fact that he has already hit his peak there in terms of sporting performance, which means he very likely wouldn’t repeat another title there, preferring to keep his image untouched.
As for his refusal to go to the Lakers, I believe it is because he doesn’t want to be overshadowed right now by LeBron James.
Leonard has hit a very high technical level and his MVP status allows him to be the centre of attentions for 90% of the teams in the league, and that probably wouldn’t happen at the Lakers.
The Clippers managed to find space on their payroll for the acquisition of an all-star. They just needed to convince Leonard to fly to Los Angeles, to build something out of nothing, just like it happened in Toronto.
Kawhi is moved by challenges. He wouldn’t go to the Lakers to be James’ supporting act, and he opted to build a legacy, with the Clippers being the perfect environment for that.
His move to the Clippers, however, were only confirmed in case the team from Los Angeles also managed to bring in his friend Paul George, that had made a very good season at the Oklahoma City Thunder.
That was the Clippers’ stroke of genius, that completely changed their level in the NBA, and the level of the league in general. That already turns them into one of the favourites to the NBA title with odds around 3.75 on Bet365.
The mechanism to hire Paul George
Managing to get Paul George’s signing was something difficult, but that would leverage the team into being one of the favourites to the title for next season.
Managing to sign Leonard, that was the finals’ MVP, and then getting Paul George, that fought for the MVP award of the regular season, is something superb.
The deal with Kawhi was almost sealed, since the All-star became a free agent, and the Clippers had room to pay the 142 million dollars for his contract.
To make the deal with George, they counted with the player’s will and especially the poor management of the team from Oklahoma.
Paul George didn’t see a competitive future playing for the Thunder, especially because the team from Oklahoma didn’t have the funds to secure millionaire contractc
which means they would be an average team at best, not having any perspectives of signing another great player to form a partnership with him and Westbrook.
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The team’s strategy of banking on the draft didn’t look enticing for George, that asked to be traded to the Clippers.
To close the deal, the Clippers have offered to the Thunder the youngster Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari as well, confirming that the Thunder are focusing on building a competitive team for the future, and not for now.
But OKC’s great accomplishment was snatching 4 first round draft picks from the Clippers for the upcoming seasons, unprotected, 1 protected 1st round pick, and still two draft pick swaps with the Clippers.
That can result into absurd rewards for the Oklahoma City Thunder in the future, even if it cost them their best player at the moment.
The deal was good for both sides, since that the OKC wouldn’t have any advantage in counting with a unsatisfied player on their roster, and the Clippers have picked up one of the best players of the regular season, and the better and most valued of the playoffs.
The Clippers have stormed into the fight for the NBA title, unexpectedly. This surprising move elevated even more their expectations for a great season.