LA Clippers shocked everybody when they landed Kawhi Leonard. However, if the recent rumors are to be believed, there’s much more to the deal than what meets the eye.
Here’s Kawhi Leonard’s full thank you to Toronto, the Raptors and Canada. pic.twitter.com/hGgK7a356y
— Faizal Khamisa (@SNFaizalKhamisa) July 24, 2019
It was a remarkable free transfer window in many ways for the Los Angeles Clippers. They set a new record by trading away total seven draft picks- two swap picks and five first-round picks to Oklahoma Thunder. The Clippers knew that it was necessary if they were to sign two huge superstars. The Clippers knew that landing George was crucial if they wanted to get Kawhi Leonard.
Paul George wasn’t even on the Los Angeles Clippers’ wishlist on July 1 when the free transfer window opened. Only when free agency began did they realize that they would need George to land Leonard.
Reports claim LA Clippers eyed Bradley Beal Before Kawhi Leonard
In fact, many reports claim that the Clippers were after Bradley Beal. Beal was eventually marked not for sale by the Washington Wizards. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski also reported that the Clippers enquired after the Pelicans’ Jrue Holiday, but he wasn’t available either.
— NBA (@NBA) July 24, 2019
A new report in the Atletic goes into much greater detail of Clippers’ pursuit of Leonard. It even mentions that they were in contact with the Houston Rockets to get James Harden. But understandably, Harden was untouchable.
After the Rockets were sent crashing following a 2nd round elimination in the playoffs, there were rumors that they would get rid of everyone on their roster apart from Harden. But the Rockets failed to deal players like Eric Gordon and Clint Capela in a sign-and-trade involving Jimmy Butler. They eventually had to contend with sending a few draft picks and Chris Paul to Oklahoma, in exchange for Russell Westbrook.
Stuart Scott: “Kawhi Leonard, who are you?
Kawhi Leonard: “Kawhi Leonard.”
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) July 19, 2019
Before George spoke with Leonard regarding a possible team up at the Clippers, the Thunder did explore the option of trading him and their other superstars. But George did express a desire to leave to the Clippers, meaning that the Thunder could not bring back their two All-Stars to share a third season.