Kawhi Leonard and Paul George certainly aren’t the first superstar pairing to come up short during their first season together. Heck, LeBron himself can tell them a thing or two about that given the Heat’s infamous collapse in the 2011 Finals against Dirk and the Mavs.
Of course, they went on to put up one of the more dominant single-season runs in NBA history the following year, winning 27 straight at one point and eventually bringing home two more championships to Miami before the dissolution of the Big 3 Heat. Now, PG and Kawhi are hoping they can follow a similar tract.
However, that would require them to stick around beyond next season, depending on how things pan out, as both can opt out of their current contracts in 2021. If you ask new head coach Tyronn Lue, he’s not worried about it. Lue, who was a Clippers assistant under Doc Rivers last season, believes that a lot of their chemistry issues were due to injuries and missed time, and he’s positive they can rectify that moving forward and, moreover, that his two stars will be in L.A. for the duration.
Here’s what Lue told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols on Thursday:
A fireside chat with new Clippers Coach Ty Lue – on his couple weeks as the NBA's most wanted man, his plans to address team chemistry, how long he thinks Kawhi & PG are sticking around, and whether he regrets not taking the Lakers job.
Also: he & I fight over Chauncey Billups 😂 pic.twitter.com/1KxL7OH8Mk
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) October 22, 2020
“I think Kawhi and PG are here to stay for a long time,” Lue said. “It’s just, I think in their situation and where they want to be is here with the Clippers. We’ve just got to make it a great environment, and we have to win.”
Lue also talked about being in the hot seat, given the enormous pressure they face to win a championship. It’s a situation he’s faced before when took over for David Blatt in Cleveland, so Lue says he welcomes the pressure. But plenty of questions remain about chemistry on the roster, despite the wealth of talent, combined with the fact that several players are set to enter free agency.
Regardless, the Clippers will once again be one of the favorites in the West, although they’ve learned the hard way that it’s never something you can take for granted.