- The Los Angeles Clippers made a massive trade for Paul George, then signed Kawhi Leonard in free agency.
- According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Clippers gave up as many as seven overall first-round picks, plus two players, one of the biggest trades for a superstar in NBA history.
- According to Wojnarowski, the Clippers decided to make the move because they feared Leonard signing with the Los Angeles Lakers and forming a Big 3 with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, while the Clippers were left empty-handed.
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The Los Angeles Clippers pulled off a stunning series of moves in the early hours of Saturday, trading for Paul George, then signing Kawhi Leonard to a max contract.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski Leonard informed the Clippers that he would sign with them if they landed George, a superstar he wanted to play with and believed could make them an immediate contender.
The package the Clippers sent the Oklahoma City Thunder for George is the biggest in NBA history: four unprotected first-round picks, a protected first-round pick, two future pick swaps, second-year guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and veteran forward Danilo Gallinari, according to Wojnarowski.
As The New York Times’ Marc Stein noted, it surpassed the package the Los Angeles Lakers sent the New Orleans Pelicans for Anthony Davis just weeks ago.
According to Wojnarowski, the Clippers were motivated to do the trade, in part, because of their Staples Center co-tenants: the Lakers. Wojnarowski reported that the Clippers feared the Lakers landing Leonard in free agency and forming their own Big 3 with Leonard, Davis, and LeBron James while the Clippers came away empty-handed.
According to Wojnarwoski, the Clippers explored trade talks to land Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal and New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday, but neither player was available. Meanwhile, Thunder GM Sam Presti played the Toronto Raptors and Clippers against one another, trying to offload George and Russell Westbrook in mega-deals. The Clippers ultimately offered a massive package to land George so they could sign Leonard.
In a wide-open NBA, the Clippers immediately jump into contenders status, with two of the best two-way players in the entire NBA. They sacrificed a little bit of depth and much of their future to land George and Leonard, but ultimately, they have a superstar tandem that rivals everyone in the league, including their L.A. rivals.
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