LeBron James attended NBA Summer League in Las Vegas sporting a custom Lakers hat that said “LeBronland” on the side. But after Friday night’s blockbuster trade for Paul George and subsequent signing of Kawhi Leonard by the Clippers, Los Angeles just got a whole lot more crowded when it comes to hoops.
The pair of moves, which came one after another early Saturday morning on the east coast, changes the NBA in a big way after the Clippers successfully traded for George and landed one of the biggest free agents in recent memory, one that just led the Toronto Raptors to their first-ever NBA championship.
The Lakers were one of three teams that felt they had a serious changes to land Leonard, along with the Clippers and Raptors. And after completing a trade for Anthony Davis the LeBron James-led team had to feel pretty good about their chances, as well as the enticing opportunity to form a super team in LA and dominate an ever-changing Western Conference. But the Lakers were reportedly not expecting what came down once news of the two big moves broke early Saturday morning.
The term “completely blindsided” is a pretty significant phrase given how confident the Lakers seemed to be that they had done all they could to get Leonard to Los Angeles wearing yellow and purple. They even got some help from Magic Johnson, who did his own bit of recruiting and was sought out by Leonard and his team for advice during the process.
Davis and James are certainly a pretty solid consolation prize for Lakers fans, but watching two native sons team up on the Clippers is certainly significant. It’s also telling that somehow, over the course of two summers, George has shunned the Lakers twice — first by choosing to skip free agency and re-sign in Oklahoma City with the Thunder and again in requesting a trade to Los Angeles to play with Leonard and the Clippers, not Davis and James and the Lakers.
It’s safe to say much of the NBA was not expecting Paul George to switch teams this summer, but to see him pick the Clippers and take Leonard with him in the process, seems to be a shock to the Lakers in particular.