The Los Angeles Clippers were the biggest winners of the NBA offseason, landing Paul George via a monster trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder that led to them acquiring Kawhi Leonard in free agency. It had been reported that getting a second star in George was what sealed the deal on getting Leonard to Los Angeles, and in a new piece by Arash Markazi of the Los Angeles Times, we learned that Leonard made it clear that he needed a running mate if he was going to become a Clipper.
Doc Rivers spoke to Markazi and gave a glimpse into the meeting that occurred between the reigning NBA Finals MVP’s camp and the Clippers’ front office. Apparently, the notoriously reserved Leonard laid out the circumstances under which he’d suit up for the team as clearly as he could.
“I actually tried to speak to him last season a couple times as he was walking by and you get nothing out of him. Nothing,” Rivers said. “He comes into this meeting and he shakes our hands and he’s talking. We were prepared for a meeting where we would have to drag things out of him. Instead, he’s the one talking and finally he tells us exactly what the deal is.
“He said, ‘I want to play for you,’ and he pointed at me. He said, ‘Mr. Ballmer, I love the things you do and what you stand for, but your team is not good enough and if you don’t change your team, I’m not coming.’”
Los Angeles had to part with quite the package of picks and players in order to land George, but it was obviously enough to get Leonard on board. As such, the Clippers enter the 2019-20 NBA season as the favorites to lift the Larry O’Brien trophy for the first time in franchise history.