The Los Angeles Clippers have remade their team with two bold strokes, agreeing to a four-year contract with two-time NBA Finals most valuable player Kawhi Leonard and acquiring perennial all-star Paul George from the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The deals were widely reported late Friday, although no official confirmation was provided by the players or teams involved.
According to ESPN, the Clippers will send point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and veteran Danilo Gallinari to the Thunder for George, along with their unprotected 2022, 2024 and 2026 first-round draft picks, their unprotected 2021 and protected 2023 first-round picks via Miami, and the rights to swap picks with the Clippers in 2023 and 2025.
The four-year deal with Leonard is worth $141 million, ESPN reported.
Both players have ties to the Los Angeles area, and it has long been rumored that both wanted to play in their hometown. Leonard, 28, was born in Los Angeles and attended Canyon Springs High School in Moreno Valley, Martin Luther King High School in Riverside, and San Diego State University. George, 29, was born in Palmdale and attended that city’s Knight High School.
Leonard and George are among the best two-way players in NBA history, and adding them to a roster that outperformed expectations in making the playoffs last season would appear to make the Clippers instant title contenders.
The Clippers’ imminent signing of Leonard is an especially bitter blow to the crosstown Lakers, who had their sights set on signing the former Toronto Raptor and San Antonio Spur to pair with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, creating what would have been one of the league’s greatest trios.
Instead, the Lakers will have to scramble to fill out their roster with lower-tier free agents.
The Lakers reportedly agreed to a two-year, $30 million deal with veteran guard Danny Green, who played with Leonard on last season’s NBA-champion Raptors squad, and a one-year deal with free-agent center DeMarcus Cousins, a former all-star who played for the Golden State Warriors last season. The Lakers also agreed to a two-year, $6 million deal with free agent guard Quinn Cook, Sports Illustrated reported.
And the Lakers will resign three players on last year’s roster, JaVale McGee, Rajon Rondo and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
Teams were permitted to sign contracts with players beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday.
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: