Clippers Notes: George, Kawhi, Trade Ideas

The inciting incident for the union of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George during the summer of 2019 was a congratulatory phone call from George to Leonard a few days after the Raptors‘ championship victory, writes Ramona Shelburne in a cover story for ESPN.

“It was congratulating him on winning,” George said. “That’s how it started … then it took on a life of its own.”

As Shelburne details, that one phone call turned into multiple phone calls, text messages, and even in-person meetings at Drake’s house in Los Angeles, where the rapper let Leonard stay while the San Diego native was in town for free agent meetings.

By July 1, Leonard and George had decided they wanted to team up, preferably with the Clippers, and kept in constant communication during that first week of free agency, even meeting at Drake’s house following Kawhi’s meeting with Toronto. Although the Thunder engaged in George trade talks with both the Clippers and Raptors, as reported in July, the Clips were “clearly the favored destination” for the star duo and were the team most willing to pay the high price to get a deal done, per Shelburne.

Here’s more on the Clippers:

  • Shelburne’s story is worth checking out in full for a more in-depth explanation of why returning to his hometown of Los Angeles meant so much to George. “[People] think it was a basketball move,” George said. “And for a lot of reasons, it was a basketball move. But that’s not where it comes from. It was a lot deeper than me coming here for basketball reasons.”
  • In an Insider-only article for ESPN.com, Kevin Pelton examines the Clippers’ trade options, noting that the team will want to load up for a potential playoff matchup with the Lakers. Pelton views Marcus Morris as a more worthwhile trade target than Andre Iguodala if the Clips are willing to give up their 2020 first-round pick. He also briefly explores the idea of a Lou Williams trade, unlikely as it may be.
  • The Clippers are in almost exactly the same spot the Raptors were last season, according to Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times. As Woike points out, the Clippers’ 2019/20 first half (28-13, sixth in net rating) is nearly a statistical match for Toronto’s ’18/19 first half (29-12, sixth in net rating). Leonard has also missed almost exactly the same number of games (11 of 41, compared to 10 of 41 last season).
  • Those similarities to last year’s title team may be one reason why Leonard is preaching patience to his Clippers teammates, as Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN details. “We just can’t be in a rush,” Kawhi said when asked about the Clippers’ continuity, or lack thereof. “That’s what I’m [telling them]. Just be patient. It’s hard to win a championship. The pressure isn’t even on us now. Just enjoy the process and have fun.”
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18 thoughts on “Clippers Notes: George, Kawhi, Trade Ideas

  1. Theone23

    It’s the clippers championship to lose this season, unfortunately. The only teams I can see giving them trouble are teams from the East, namely Milwaukee Philadelphia and maybe Toronto if they can pick up a piece or two

    • amk3510

      The team in their own building will give them trouble (and no the 1st game of the season and a close xmas game is not the playoffs)

      • harden-westbrook-mvps

        The Lakers lack the playoff experience of the other contenders in the West, considering they haven’t been there in seven years when they got swept by the Spurs. Sure LBJ has playoff experience, but he is 18-31 against the West. Obviously those were all in the Finals, but any team they play after the first round will be title contenders. AD has almost no postseason experience, reaching the playoffs just twice and winning just one postseason series during his 7 seasons in New Orleans.

        • amk3510

          Anyone in the west not named the Warriors has irrelevant playoff experience. So thats every contender this year. These teams in the west have accomplished nothing recently and no one has an edge because of “experience”.

        • El Don

          Rondo, Green, LBJ, JaVale… All champions.
          DH12 finals & all the vets have playoff experience… only one without is Kuzma. I would say they have much more experience than Clips, only Kawhi has any late season experience.

      • harden-westbrook-mvps

        The Lakers lack the playoff experience of the other contenders in the West, considering they haven’t been there in seven years when they got swept by the Spurs. Sure LBJ has playoff experience, but he is 18-31 against the West. Obviously those were all in the Finals, but any team they play after the first round will be title contenders. AD has almost no postseason experience, reaching the playoffs just twice and winning just one postseason series during his 7 seasons in New Orleans.

        • x%sure

          It was a rubbish comment the first time. Danny Green 124 games, Dwight H 95 games. Enough researching.

    • JD Candello

      What do people continue to see in Philly?

      They will be lucky to get outta the 1st rd

  2. Tazza

    Clippers title to lose for sure.
    I think they will be fine against any team in the east. The bucks with Giannas, Kawhi already proved he can guard him. PG can handle Middleton, Beverly is a Bledsloe and then the Bucks are very limited outside that.
    Think of any team would worry the clippers coming out of the east it would be the 6ers. They don’t exactly have anyone that could handle Embid, Harrell could try but he’s 6’7 which is under sized. Then on offence how would they go against Embid and Horford protecting the paint and the rim. I think if Philly played a 3-2 zone it would be hard to score outside and inside. Plus they have some good perimeter defenders with Simmons, JRich and Thybulle plus Tobias Harris. Alternatively the clippers could also play 3-2 which makes scoring outside difficult with Bev, PG and Kawhi but they don’t have good enough paint defenders to stop Horford and Embid down there.

    Which leads me to in the West. The main threats, the Lakers, Jazz, Rockets, Nuggets and Mavs all have one thing in common that the clippers don’t and that’s an elite big man. AD again is to big to Harrell to stop, the Lakers could also play a good 3-2 defence with AD and McGee or Howard with LBJ Bradley Green KCP and those guys on the wings. Jazz have Gobert who at 7’1 will take some stopping, Rockets have Capela he isn’t as scary, Nuggets have Jokic who isn’t very physical so that shouldn’t be to scary but the Mavs have Porzingod who is 7’3 and can move well play inside an out and that’s a tough match up.

    Which leads to possible trade targets I think the Clippers could do with reinforcements down low. They need to look at some big bodies they can throw at people. Noah as a free agent could be someone.
    Maybe Derrick Favours could be an option ..

  3. GABEPERKINS1

    2 regular season games aren’t gonna determine whether lakers can beat clippers.. 1st game, lakers were thoroughly out rebounded on offensive glass.. 2nd game lebron was hurt when pat beverly knees him in groin.. both games were lost in 4th quarter by lakers.. you don’t think the lakers can plan on how to beat the clippers in 7 game series.. rotations are shortened.. lakers are getting better each game.. they have best road record.. they have the most wins vs over .500 teams.. lebron takes it another level In playoffs.. never bet against lebron James in a 7 game series

    • x%sure

      Star availability is the biggest key. Beyond that too is that the Lakers can shape their defense, while the Clips are simply good at it individually.

  4. x%sure

    PGeorge signed with OKC, his own choice. But he was traded to LA– choices made by PG, KL, Presti, more. It could have been to anywhere; so more of a basketball move.

    There doesn’t have to be only one reason, but that is what PG is arguing. Mostly it is a Kawhi initiative but by now that is the third reason. Probably could add a few more (such as, Presti got a haul; OKC was not going far in the playoffs; and yes, a hometown move). So there’s 5 or so.

    But that’s okay, no no rules broken I think… Heavys to root against are good to have, unless they win!

    • Tazza

      Back to my think think Clippers will struggle post season if they come up against some string 3-2 zone defences.
      Lakers and have the best one with AD and either McGee or Howard down low protecting the paint and rim. With the likes of LBJ Bradley Green KCP and Rondo guarding the perimeter.
      6ers have a good one with Horford and Embid down low, Simmons Harris JRich Thybulle and Ennis on the outside.
      Bucks could play this style also with Giannis and BLopez down low and Middleton Hill Mathews on the outside.

      The main thing with this is how do the clippers stop the two bigs on offence with Harrell and Zubac their main bigs. Harrell is undersized and will struggle against Embid and AD. Zubac is a small minutes player and they down have much big man depth outside these guys. Green and Patterson are on the roster but both these two aren’t stopping these guys.
      Also the Clippers offence mainly features Lou Will Beverly PG or Kawhi as ball handlers working from the outside in, against a good 3 man zone it’ll be harder to penatrate and when they do they might have to settle for more mid range shots with two bigs down there waiting to contest and block. The other benefit of two bigs is that 1 can alway try to contest a mid range shot or help in picks knowing there is another big to rebound at the rim.
      Instead of trying to guard Leonard and PG man to man try zone them and make them stay outside and shoot deep 3’s or otherwise make them work to get inside and then body them with big bodies in they try get in the paint. No easy buckets. Offensively instead of attacking at their perimeter with all those good defenders, throw it inside and use your height advantages, if they send double teams kick out for threes.

    • Luck of Irish

      I wouldn’t put too much stock in anything that PG states in an interview. Wait a few months and it will be a completely different answer if his camp thinks it will put a better spin on things. Same can be said for a lot of players but it rings especially true for PG. I also don’t think the Clips are the last stop with his NBA career.

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