Kawhi Leonard is a Los Angeles Clipper. In case you missed it, Paul George is too.
In the biggest clandestine operation of the summer, the two west coast kids from Los Angeles County, who are pretty darn good at basketball, decided they wanted to play for that “other” team in Los Angeles.
For weeks, rumors swirled, ironically none of which included Paul George’s name, about where the reigning Finals MVP would take his talents. Most figured Kawhi would end up in Los Angeles. As it turned out, they were right, sort of.
Kawhi’s decision to join the Clippers was rim-shaking to say the least. This wasn’t Scottie Pippen pointing to the Jordan logo at the bottom of his shoe on live television, asking his long, lost teammate to return for perhaps, another threepeat. This wasn’t even Dwayne Wade mums the word about where LeBron James was going to take his talents.
This was an NBA superstar like none we’ve seen before doing what he wanted on his own terms, a return to the old school with a unique blend of new. Kawhi Leonard kept us guessing. I’m not too sure anyone in the history of the league, other than Billy Crystal, has chosen the Clippers over the Lakers, especially when winning a championship with the Lakers seemed like a foregone conclusion.
Kawhi’s decision is many things all rolled into one. It signifies a generation gap rearing its beautiful head. This is Kawhi telling LeBron James that he too has taken two different franchises to a championship and won Finals MVP with them. Between them, it is now a race to their third. Kawhi needs no megastar assistance, although a little dose of Paul George will do. This is also an indication that the Logo, Jerry West, is perhaps still the greatest mind making decisions in the NBA. West has built countless NBA contenders and has been doing so for decades. As an executive with the Clippers, he has done it again.
The Western Conference is now officially loaded. Here’s a fun exercise. Try picking which eight Western Conference teams will make the playoffs next year with any certainty. Tell me exactly where they’ll be seeded and how many will finish over .500.
Get that one right and I’m taking you to Vegas.
While stout, however, no team in the West is complete. We thought the Lakers might become that but the whole Kawhi thing didn’t turn out as they had planned. The Lakers have LeBron, Anthony Davis and a number of roster spots that desperately need to be filled. Theirs isn’t the only two-man game out west. The Clips now strut the floor with Kawhi and George. The Rockets still have their disgruntled, State Farm selling duo of Harden and Paul. Golden State has Steph and Klay with a side of Draymond. The Blazers have Lillard and McCollum. The Nuggets have Murray and Djokic. When it’s all said and done, a team that was made famous by their Hall of Fame duo, the Utah Jazz, might be the most complete team in the West. And I’m not even talking about Kyrie and Durant in Brooklyn. Either way, we are bound to see a mad, mad race to the finish. Kudos to the NBA for keeping us talking about their sport well into the summer.
Despite what you will hear when one of these teams hoists the Western Conference trophy, and rest assured you will hear it, whichever team wins this thing will not be an all-time great. These days, we are far too prone to throw around superlatives. What it will be is a good team that has traversed a difficult conference schedule to become the last team standing. But they won’t be great. It might be a team that is on the verge of building something special, but with free agents playing franchises like musical chairs, the next NBA dynasty might take a while.
What the NBA does have for the first time in a long time is parity…. and more importantly, interest. The NFL season is a little over a month away and we’ve barely even discussed it. The Association now dominates the headlines.
With all these acquisitions, the NBA has become a two-man game. Whichever team plays it best this year will be the last team standing. I for one am looking forward to it.
It was at this point, we would realize that Knicks’ GM Steve Mills is an idiot , as too , Rob Pelinka in a similar position with the Lakers. Nothing else needs to be said .
I don’t know of too many people within the Knicks organization that know what the hell they’re doing.
It’s been that way for some time now.
Steve Mills the Knicks’ GM has brought Stephen A Smith to tears How great is that?
Oklahoma City Thunder GM Sam Presti is now willing to listen to meaningful offers for point guard, Russell Westbrook
I’ve even heard my Orlando Magic are in the running.
I can’t say that I wouldn’t mind.
Yeah fuck Kawhi and PG. Both of them have directly and purposely wronged us like Lucy did Charlie Brown with the football. Makes it that much easier to hate the Clippers. PG also could have signed last year but instead wouldn’t even give the Lakers a meeting and chose to play in OKC instead of coming home to LA. But, as soon as he gets a window of opportunity to go he bolts. I guess playing with Westbrook drives everyone away at some point, but I still feel burned by PG too because of his public statement that he would sign here once a FA.
For his whole humility act, Kawhi is all about Kawhi. He’s obviously got something to prove both on the court and off and wants/loves all the attention he’s gotten since his initial trade demand from the Spurs. Maybe the idea of a huge Clippers selfie over the Lakers banners is what did it for him. Despite him holding us hostage, we assembled a decent team on the fly. (Could have been better had he not been a such a dick, but had he not swayed PG to demand a trade and Jerry West making it happen, I think he would have ended up signing with us.) Oh well props to Mr. West. Dude is a walking fucking legend. I blame Jeanie for this because she passed on West when he made it known he wanted to come back to the Lakers after leaving Golden State. Credit Steve The GoofBall-mer for scooping him up. That decision just bit us in the ass big time.
I like what we did in plan B with what was left out there, but it pisses me off because we could have had a better squad had Kawhi not jerked us off while working PG to demand a trade. I think Rob Pelinka has done a an admirable job putting together a solid roster in the aftermath of getting the rug pulled out by Kawhi considering most of the big fish and even middle talent FA’s were long signed elsewhere. And let’s not forget the first domino, AD. The Brow is only 26 and on par with Giannis when healthy.
I love the Quinn Cook signing and looking forward to see if Troy Daniels can provide decent minutes. Not in love with Rondo and his lack of defense but he is a vet and a proven coach on the floor. If he is motivated he’s a steal. Alex Caruso showed some great value last year and we just picked up Avery Bradley to fortify the backcourt D even more. We all know that LeBron is going to get the ball once it reaches half court so having a PG really isn’t all that necessary. Mostly for defensive reasons. Love having McGee come back as well. We need someone who will crash, rebound and defend the paint. I have a strong feeling Demarcus Cousins is going to continue to get more healthy and can be a real problem for other teams. And we got him dirt cheap. If he is motivated and in shape he can hopefully play a big role. Maybe the disappointment of the Finals coupled with LeBron’s presence can get him to quit with the antics and just focus on ball. KCP’s not worth the money we’ve given him over the last few years, but we’ll need his perimeter D. I think Danny Green starts and Pope is the backup at the 2…But I do appreciate that KCP waited around and let us chase FA’s along with holdovers McGee and Rondo. Loyalty matters. Still hoping we can add Iggy with the last roster spot to help our defense.
The Clips have some dogs on that side of the ball with the two stars added to Beverly, Harris and Zublocka. They’re gonna be tough to run an offense against. The bandwagon is already starting to fill up, just like during the sLob City era…How’d that work out for them? Whatever. Tough times separate the true Lakers fans from the fake. Gonna be fun asking all these new Clipper “fans” if they even know who Loy Vaught, Danny Manning and Rodney Rodgers are.
Can’t wait for tipoff. I love this game.
Yea, wild battle to pull stars in L.A.
I agree with you, Bleed. The Lakers did as well as they could on the fly, in fact, probably better than most.
If last year’s Finals proved anything, it’s that depth is key. The Lake Show sure loaded up on that.
And now, I guess we wait to see where Westbrook lands. He and Jimmy Buckets on the same team will make Harden’s and CP3’s foibles look like Ernie and Bert’s.
“Rim-shaking” my ass. Adrian Woj-whatever- his-name-is was on Kawhi to the Clippers a long-time ago.
First of all, as long as Doc “blow a 3-1 lead” Rivers coaches the Clippers, nothing changes.
Second of all, in all the noise being made about the two Los Angeles teams, nobody has mentioned that the Utah Jazz got seriously interesting in all this . Bojan Bogdanovic is a break-out star waiting to happen.
The wild-card in all of this is now Russell Westbrook is open to a trade and OKC has told all it’s free agents to feel free to “re-evaluate” their situations. In other words, this ain’t done yet.
Good foresight on the Westbrook deal. That didn’t last long. And I guess we’ll see how long Chris Paul stays in OKC. Although I’m not sure who would take on that contract.
I totally agree with you on the Jazz. That’s why I hinted about them in the post. Possibly the most complete team in the West, albeit younger, we’ll see how they fare against the two-man monster squads the conference has compiled.