Not only did Kawhi Leonard get to go home when he signed a four-year contract with the Los Angeles Clippers, but the reigning NBA Finals MVP got to bring another L.A. native with him, too. Leonard joining the Clippers was proceeded by Paul George getting traded to the team for a package of Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and a whole bunch of draft picks.
Leonard wanted another superstar to join him in Los Angeles, with the Clippers fearing that the failure to acquire a second guy would lead to Leonard ending up on the Lakers. As it turns out, though, a piece by Ramona Shelburne gives a glimpse into Leonard’s side of things, which includes the work he did to recruit two superstars to the Clippers.
We already knew that Leonard was in contact with Kevin Durant about teaming up, which Shelburne reported Leonard initiated and led to Durant being “more than a little stunned.” This, also, would have occurred if the pair went to the Clippers. Ultimately, Leonard’s attention then shifted to George, who he tried to pry away from the Thunder while he was sitting down with other teams.
After the Clippers met with Leonard for approximately three hours at head coach Doc Rivers’ house in Malibu on Monday night, both sides went to work to make that happen. At the same time he was meeting with the Los Angeles Lakers and Toronto Raptors this week, Leonard was meeting, calling and texting with George, trying to convince him to find a way out of Oklahoma City.
It obviously ended up working out, and apparently, George’s camp is impressed by how persuasive Leonard can be with this stuff.
Still, Leonard’s recruiting efforts caught George by surprise.
Said one source close to George, “For a quiet guy, he’s a hell of a recruiter.”
George ultimately decided to go to L.A., which makes sense, because the chance to go home and play alongside the reigning NBA Finals MVP who is personally requesting your services doesn’t pop up all that frequently. The Thunder can take some solace knowing that George had to be convinced over a few days to leave the franchise, and can take a little more solace knowing that they got a haul in return for the star, but this goes to show that Leonard did some serious leg work to get a running mate.