The Los Angeles Clippers turned the NBA on its head in the early hours of Saturday morning, pulling off a pair of gigantic moves to turn the team into an immediate championship contender. Los Angeles made a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder that will bring Paul George to the City of Angels, and in the aftermath, Kawhi Leonard agreed to join the team on a four-year deal.
While it cost Los Angeles a pretty penny to pull this off, it was absolutely worth it, giving the team a pair of All-Stars to go head-to-head with the Lakers for west coast supremacy. Now, in a story by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, we learned that part of the reason why the Clippers made this move was because they were afraid of their fellow inhabitants at the Staples Center acquiring Leonard.
The Clippers became the last line of defense for balance of power in the NBA — never mind the fledgling franchise’s own future. The Clippers had come to believe that without a deal for George, Leonard was prepared to sign with the Lakers and create a Staples Center partnership of LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Leonard, sources said.
At another point in the story, Wojnarowski brings word that the Clippers were worried once negotiations started that the Raptors were near a deal to get George and convince Leonard to come back, too.
This does, in a way, explain the hefty price tag for George, one that included a really good veteran in Danilo Gallinari, coveted second-year guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and a treasure trove of draft picks. All of that seems like a lot for one player, and it makes more sense when you think of it as a deal for George and Leonard, but when you view it as the price you pay to do that and keep your most bitter rival from forming a superteam, you can make the case the Clippers did some smart business.