Kawhi Leonard

Lakers Notes: Pelinka, Contracts, Green, Cousins

The Lakers are taking an all-or-nothing mentality into next season with the acquisition of Anthony Davis and numerous veteran free agents, including DeMarcus Cousins. GM Rob Pelinka said there’s only one goal for next season, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN“For us, anything short of a championship is not success,” Pelinka said. “So we have to learn from last season, because we didn’t win a championship. And a lot of that went into the construction of the roster this year.”

We have more on the Lakers:

  • Pelinka notes the benefit of signing players to short-term contracts. While Davis is expected to be a long-term Lakers, only James (player option) is currently on the books beyond 2021, Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times relays. “It gives us the ability to not only contend in the short term with the players we wanted, but also add a superstar or max player in that July of 2021,” Pelinka said.
  • Shooting guard Danny Green, another off-season free agent addition, said he waited for Raptors teammate Kawhi Leonard to make his decision before he chose his destination, according to another Ganguli story. Green may have stayed in Toronto or gone to Dallas if Leonard hadn’t joined the Clippers. “Those five days seemed like five months. … You think a day, it goes by pretty fast but the way it was happening, the way I was talking to him, you would think it was a week. Like, ‘I got to wait another day, dude? Like, come on!’” Green said.
  • The Cousins signing will only work if he’s willing to come off the bench and split the center spot with JaVale McGee, Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times opines. That could be a tough for Cousins to accept, given that he was a premier player prior to rupturing his Achilles two seasons ago, Woike notes. Cousins is thrilled to be reunited with former Pelicans teammate Davis, Youngmisuk writes in a separate story“We realized how much better we made one another and how much we made the game easier for each other. We both appreciate each other’s presence,” Cousins said. “To add LeBron James to the mix, his résumé speaks for itself.”

Kawhi Leonard Signs With Clippers

JULY 10: Leonard has officially signed his contract with the Clippers, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link), who reports an interesting twist.

Kawhi’s new contract will actually be a three-year deal with a third-year player option, per Charania. That would give the star forward an opportunity to opt out and secure a higher maximum salary in 2021, when he’ll have 10 years of NBA experience.

As Charania notes (via Twitter), that also lines up Leonard’s deal with George’s — both players can opt out in ’21.

Leonard’s three-year, maximum-salary contract will be worth $103,137,300.

JULY 6: Reigning NBA Finals MVP  and top 2019 free agent Kawhi Leonard has decided to sign with the Clippers, reports Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter). Leonard has informed the runner-up teams – the Raptors and Lakers – of his decision, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Although the Clippers had been rumored all year to be the top contender for Leonard, his decision still represents a shocking turn, as reports in recent weeks had increasingly pointed toward the Lakers or the defending-champion Raptors as more probable long-term homes for Kawhi while those Clippers rumors died down to some extent.

However, it will be the little brother in Los Angeles that makes the biggest splash of 2019’s free agent period, as the Clippers have also agreed to acquire Paul George in a trade with the Thunder. Leonard had been recruiting George to try to find a way to team up with him on the Clippers, according to Wojnarowski, who tweets that the two All-NBA forwards found a way to pull it off after George requested a trade from Oklahoma City.

Leonard’s agreement with the Clippers – which will be a four-year, maximum-salary deal worth just shy of $141MM, per Wojnarowski (Twitter link) – represents the culmination of a saga that began during the 2017/18 season, when Kawhi missed all but nine games for the Spurs due to a mysterious quad injury.

A disagreement between Spurs team doctors and Leonard’s camp about the extent of that injury led to the two-time Defensive Player of the Year losing trust in the franchise and making a trade request. Although Leonard was reportedly pushing for a deal that would send him home to Los Angeles, the Spurs instead traded him to Toronto in a blockbuster swap that featured DeMar DeRozan.

In his first and only season as a Raptor, Leonard led the team to a No. 2 seed in the East, then put together one of the all-time great postseason runs to help Toronto claim its first-ever NBA championship. Having averaged 26.6 PPG, 7.3 RPG, and 3.3 RPG in 60 regular season contests, Leonard boosted those marks to 30.5 PPG, 9.1 RPG, and 3.9 APG in 24 playoff games, posting a .490/.379/.884 shooting line against the Magic, Sixers, Bucks, and Warriors.

As Leonard weighed his free decision over the last week and took meetings with the three teams in the running for him, there was a sense that the Raptors and Lakers might have the most to offer the star forward. He had built a trust with the management team and training staff in Toronto, and the Raps had the ability to offer him a five-year contract, as well as the chance to defend a championship.

The Lakers, on the other hand, offered the opportunity to team with LeBron James and Anthony Davis — adding Leonard to that duo would have created arguably the NBA’s all-time best “Big Three” and made the Lakers the immediate frontrunners for the 2020 title.

The Clippers, meanwhile, had missed out on 2019’s other top free agents, leaving league observers to wonder if Leonard would still seriously consider them without a star to join him. However, Kawhi made it clear to the Clippers that he would commit to them if they could land George, tweets Wojnarowski.

The Clips paid a high price to do so, surrendering Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, five first-round picks, and two first-round pick swaps, but considering it was also the price necessary to acquire Leonard, it makes sense that the organization was extremely willing to go all-in on PG13.

Leonard will now team up with George to lead a roster that also features Lou Williams, Patrick Beverley, Montrezl Harrell, Landry Shamet, Rodney McGruder, Maurice Harkless, Jerome Robinson, and potentially RFA Ivica Zubac.

With Leonard headed to the Clippers, the Lakers will pivot to using their $32MM in cap room on role players, having quickly reached a deal to sign Kawhi’s longtime teammate Danny Green.

As for the Raptors, they’re capped out with or without Leonard and Green, so their ability to add new talent will be limited. Still, without needing to account for new deals for those two players, they’ll have their full mid-level exception available and don’t project to be a taxpaying team in 2019/20.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raptors Rumors: Kawhi, Lowry, Gasol, Ibaka, Green

The Raptors were confident entering free agency about their chances to re-sign NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, but that confidence began to waver after they met with Leonard and his uncle Dennis Robertson in Toronto last Wednesday, sources tell Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca.

According to Lewenberg, Leonard and his camp asked for a lot from the Raptors during that meeting — “things players don’t generally ask for in standard contract negotiations,” writes Lewenberg. One of Lewenberg’s sources describes those requests as “unreasonable,” suggesting that Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri wouldn’t have been able to meet them all even if he’d wanted to.

The requests caused the Raptors to question whether Leonard was seriously considering them at all, according to Lewenberg. A belief that Kawhi was eyeing the Clippers all along prompted the Raptors to not get too invested in potential trade discussions with the Thunder. Lewenberg suggests that those preliminary talks included Paul George, but not Russell Westbrook, and didn’t even reach the team’s highest-ranking executives.

Within his own look at the Leonard situation, Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca conveys many of the same sentiments that Lewenberg did. According to Grange, as Leonard’s requests became more difficult to meet and communication became less constant, it became more clear that the Raptors weren’t his top priority, as one person close to the talks described it.

Grange adds that the Raptors’ contact with the Thunder in the hours leading up to Leonard’s announcement “may have been somewhat exaggerated.” Toronto tapped out fairly early once it was evident OKC was using talks with the Raptors as leverage.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • One Clippers official who spoke to Grange was relieved that his team was still able to land Kawhi after the success he enjoyed in Toronto in 2018/19: “The Raptors did everything right. We saw the parade, saw those pictures and figured that was it. We were done.”
  • Speaking to reporters, including Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun, Ujiri suggested on Tuesday that he’s not exactly reeling from losing Leonard: “I think we got a great deal out of this. We won a championship, so we’re happy. And, honestly, it’s on to the next. This is the NBA and this is how it works. You can’t hide under the table and cry. Honestly, I’ve lost no sleep, I’m not disappointed. It’s on to what’s next. I’m telling Raptors fans and everybody, don’t lose one day of sleep, one second of sleep. We’re going to be just fine. We’re going to be alright.”
  • Don’t expect the next steps for the Raptors to involve an immediate tear-down. Sources tell Lewenberg that the team has no intention of moving veterans on expiring contracts – such as Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol, and Serge Ibaka – before the season. Of course, it’s possible that stance could change by the trade deadline if the Raps don’t have a great first half.
  • While there was a belief that Danny Green would lean toward re-signing with the Raptors and trying to defend their title if Leonard returned, that may not have been the case after all. According to Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (via Twitter), Green told the Mavericks that he wouldn’t be returning to Toronto, and his choice came down to the Lakers vs. the Mavs.

Northwest Notes: Whiteside, Grant, Gilgeous-Alexander, Jazz

Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard believes he can bring out the best of Hassan Whiteside, the enigmatic center acquired from the Heat as part of the multi-team Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade. Lillard has a good friendship with Whiteside and that should help prevent Whiteside from getting over-emotional, according to Jason Quick of The Athletic.

“I said, ‘So this is what this is going to come down to: If in the middle of the game, you are not getting the ball and you mad, and you felt like somebody should have done something, you come and say something to me,” Lillard said. “And if (Trail Blazers) Coach (Terry Stotts) is getting on you, or Coach takes you out and you get mad at Coach, me and you have to be able to communicate. Even if we argue, that’s fine. But we have to be able to get through to each other.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Nuggets coach Michael Malone is thrilled with the acquisition of forward Jerami Grant from the Thunder, as he told Alex Labidou of the team’s website. He believes Grant will mesh well with franchise player Nikola Jokic and significantly improve the team’s defense. “Watching film, he’s guarded Damian Lillard, James Harden, Anthony Davis, the guy can guard anybody,” Malone said. “I think that versatility is exciting.”
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander gives the Thunder a long-term answer at point guard who may have a better future than Paul George, Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman writes. Gilgeous-Alexander is nine years younger than George, Tramel notes, and he displayed better defensive and shooting skills than Russell Westbrook did in his rookie year.
  • Jazz center Rudy Gobert shrugs off the Clippers’ acquisitions of Kawhi Leonard and George, confident that the Jazz have done enough this offseason to become serious contenders. “We don’t want to pay too much attention into what the other teams are doing,” Gobert told Tony Jones of The Athletic. “We want to keep working hard, and we want to stay hungry. We know what we have to do. Whenever we step out onto the court, the goal is to win. We know that we have a chance to do some good things this year. But we want to take things one step at a time.”
  • The Timberwolves have brought back Bryan Gates as an assistant coach under Ryan Saunders, according to an Associated Press report. Gates has been on the Kings’ staff the last three seasons but spent the 2015/16 season with Minnesota.

Heat, Westbrook Have Mutual Interest In Trade

The Heat have expressed interest in negotiating a trade for Russell Westbrook, who views the possibility of playing in Miami as appealing, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports.

A report earlier on Monday indicated that the Thunder are receptive to trade inquiries for Westbrook in the aftermath of the blockbuster deal sending Paul George to the Clippers.

The Heat made a bold move in free agency by gaining a commitment from Jimmy Butler and engineering a sign-and-trade for the swingman. A Westbrook/Butler pairing could make Miami an instant contender in the wide open Eastern Conference, though contractually it would have long-term implications.

Westbrook, 30, has four years and $171MM remaining on his contract, including a $47MM player option in the final year. Moving Westbrook’s contract for future salary-cap relief might be the best Oklahoma City can do at this point.

Miami has already traded away its 2021 and 2023 first-rounders – which the Thunder own – and numerous second-rounders.

Westbrook will make $38.5MM next season but Miami has a handful of players making between $19.2MM and $12MM — Goran Dragic, James Johnson, Justise Winslow, Dion Waiters and Kelly Olynyk — for salary-matching purposes.

Miami also has to make sure it doesn’t add more salary to its current cap. The Heat are just $986K below the threshold of the $138.9MM luxury tax apron, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks. Thus, Miami cannot take back more or equal salaries in a potential Westbrook trade because that would hamstring its ability to fill out the roster (Twitter link).

Westbrook and agent Thad Foucher met with Thunder general manager Sam Presti over the weekend and both sides came away eager to find a resolution, according to Wojnarowski. Westbrook doesn’t want to be part of rebuild and that’s where OKC finds itself after George’s trade request to join forces with Kawhi Leonard.

Free Agency Notes: Raptors, Stephenson, Kyrie, Sefolosha

The defending-champion Raptors will be a different team in 2019/20, with Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and starting shooting guard Danny Green off to Los Angeles. In the wake of Leonard agreeing to join the Clippers and Green committing to the Lakers, Toronto president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri issued a statement thanking the two former Spurs for their contributions to this year’s title team.

“We are very thankful for the year that Kawhi and Danny played with us here in Toronto, and I know the city and the entire country of Canada are grateful for everything they did to help us to win our first NBA Championship,” Ujiri said. “On behalf of the Raptors, I say a very heartfelt thank you to Kawhi and to Danny, and we send them and their families nothing but good wishes. As an organization, the Raptors will focus on the future and continue our pursuit of a second championship.”

After losing two All-NBA caliber defenders in Leonard and Green, the Raptors seem to be seeking out a certain archetype as they peruse the free agent market, writes Blake Murphy of The Athletic. As Murphy points out, new additions Stanley Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson are both versatile forwards with size who should help Toronto maintain its identity as a strong defensive club.

Here’s more on free agency:

  • It doesn’t appear there’s anything brewing at the moment for free agent guard Lance Stephenson, tweets Scott Agness of The Athletic. According to Agness, Stephenson continues to seek a new contract and may have to settle for a minimum-salary deal.
  • While we already know that Kawhi Leonard reached out to Kevin Durant and Paul George before making his free agency decision, ESPN’s Zach Lowe adds Kyrie Irving to the list of players Leonard explored recruiting. Durant and Irving were set on heading to Brooklyn, so those discussions likely didn’t go far.
  • The Jazz haven’t completed closed the door on the idea of a reunion with free agent wing Thabo Sefolosha, tweets Tony Jones of The Athletic.
  • Speaking to Mark Medina of The Mercury News about his decision to join the Timberwolves, Jordan Bell said he was looking for a team that would give him playing time, rather than seeking out the most lucrative offer available. “An opportunity just to play,” Bell said when asked what he prioritized. “Money wasn’t really the issue.” The former second-round pick is getting a one-year, minimum-salary deal from Minnesota.

Details On Kawhi Leonard’s Decision, Free Agent Meetings

Kawhi Leonard‘s camp spoke to the Raptors about the possibility of acquiring Paul George or Bradley Beal, Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star reports. The franchise considered the request, though Masai Ujiri & Co. began to believe in the final days leading up to Leonard’s decision that Kawhi, who was in Toronto from Wednesday to Friday, was not serious about rejoining the defending champs.

Leonard was focused on the Clippers even as his championship run with the Raptors was ongoing, Arthur writes. His camp gauged Jimmy Butler‘s interest in teaming up with him in Los Angeles throughout the postseason and the Clippers had planned to go after the pairing. Butler ended up landing in Miami and it appeared that the title and the inability to get Butler had closed the gap between the Raptors and the Southern California franchise.

The Raptors engaged in trade talks with the Thunder, though Arthur cautions that Toronto never came close to acquiring George and writes that Russell Westbrook was not involved in those discussions. It was previously reported that Westbrook and George both could have been included in a potential package to the Raptors. Westbrook was open to the idea of playing with Leonard, Arthur hears.

Here’s more buzz surrounding the Final MVP’s decision to move to California:

  • The location for the Lakers’ meeting with Leonard was switched last minute to Westlake Village and only owner Jeanie Buss and GM Rob Pelinka were there, as per Leonard’s request, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com tweets. Shelburne adds that Leonard met with George near that location on the same day.
  • The Lakers knew their typical pitch, promising stardom and off-court fame, would not appeal to Leonard, Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times details. The team stuck to basketball in their hotel meeting with Leonard, attempting to sell him on winning a championship with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The meeting only lasted two hours.
  • Leonard and his uncle spoke to Magic Johnson prior to the Lakers‘ meeting, Ganguli adds. They had questions about Johnson’s recent comments on Pelinka where Johnson accused the former agent of betraying him. Johnson responded with praise for the organization and spoke highly of the Lakers’ front office. Johnson’s comments were not brought up in the Lakers’ short meeting, Ganguli hears.
  • The Lakers had no idea that Leonard wanted George as a teammate, per Ganguli. It was inconsequential, as Los Angeles had no real means of acquiring him from Oklahoma City since the club had already given up so many assets in the Anthony Davis deal.

Pacific Notes: Leonard, George, Caruso, Kings

Kawhi Leonard and Paul George may have permanently altered the perception of the two teams in Los Angeles, writes Arash Markazi of The Los Angeles Times. At one time, Leonard and George were both considered to be future Lakers. They were two stars who grew up in the L.A. area and wanted to leave their smaller-market teams for the comforts of home. That’s where they wound up, but they’re both Clippers.

Markazi recounts the history of the two franchises and how unbalanced the rivalry has been since the Clippers moved west. The Lakers had the stars, the famous fans and the titles, with 33 playoff appearances, 16 trips to the Finals and 10 championships from 1976 to 2011. Over that same time, the Clippers had just three winning seasons and made the playoffs four times.

The “Lob City” years and the purchase of the team by Steve Ballmer helped changed the balance of power as the Lakers fell onto hard times. Now with George and Leonard together on one side of Staples Center and LeBron James and Anthony Davis roaming the other, there finally appears to be a real rivalry.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Lakers will sign Alex Caruso with part of their $4.8MM room exception, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. A full day of signings on Saturday plus the Davis trade left the team a little more than $1MM below the salary cap, and Marks believes that money may be used to give second-round pick Talen Horton-Tucker a contract longer than two years. Dudley, Daniels and Rajon Rondo will all sign veteran’s minimum deals, Marks adds (Twitter link).
  • The Warriors had “significant interest” in Caruso before he opted to return to the Lakers, tweets Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.
  • The Lakers risk another “reality show” season with their flurry of signings in the wake of losing out on Leonard, observes Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports. L.A.’s front office was heavily criticized last summer for not surrounding James with more shooters, and although they improved in that area this year with Danny Green, Jared Dudley, Troy Daniels and Quinn Cook, only Green has proven to be a reliable two-way player. Goodwill is also concerned about the lack of young talent, with Kyle Kuzma left as the only prominent player with a chance to improve.
  • The Kings continue to move toward GM Vlade Divac‘s vision of a faster and deeper team with this year’s free agent signings, notes Jason Jones of The Athletic. Sacramento added veteran help for its young core by re-signing Harrison Barnes and adding Dewayne Dedmon, Trevor Ariza, Cory Joseph and Richaun Holmes.

Kawhi Leonard Fallout: Clippers, Lakers, Raptors

After reaching deals late on Friday night to add Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to their roster, the Clippers are the new favorites to win the 2019 NBA title, according to the oddsmakers at BetOnline.ag. Unlike in recent years – when Golden State was the overwhelming frontrunner – the Clippers are only currently a slight favorite over the Lakers and Bucks, but it’s still a remarkable turnaround for a team that looked 24 hours ago as if it might strike out entirely in free agency.

The acquisitions of Leonard and George show how far the Clippers have come this decade, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic, who says the organization has “arrived” as a premier destination for star players.

Meanwhile, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports tweets that Leonard and his camp found it “comical” that every report this week claiming to have identified Kawhi’s likely destination mentioned the Raptors or Lakers, but never the Clippers. While it’s not clear if the Clippers were always his No. 1 choice, Leonard reportedly worked hard this week to try to get George to join him in Los Angeles, as we detail in our round-up of PG13-related items.

Here are several more Kawh-related notes related to the two suitors that missed out on Leonard:

Lakers:

  • As of about two hours before Leonard chose the Clippers on Friday night, his camp was asking the Lakers to delay the Anthony Davis trade until late Saturday or Sunday, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, who tweets that no specific reason was given.
  • If Leonard had signed with the Lakers, he would have had to do so before the Davis trade was formally completed in order to maximize his earnings, since the AD deal would’ve cut into the Lakers’ cap room. So it’s possible he was leaving a Plan B available if the Clippers were unable to acquire George — for what it’s worth, the Clippers reportedly believed Kawhi would join the Lakers if they didn’t trade for PG13.
  • It didn’t help the Lakers’ cause that a ton of specific details about Magic Johnson‘s meeting with Leonard leaked to the media, tweets Cris Carter of Fox Sports 1. I doubt that was a deciding factor for Leonard and his camp, but Carter is plugged-in with Kawhi’s group, so if he’s hearing it, it seems likely to be coming from them.
  • Losing the waiting game for Leonard was a worst-case scenario for the Lakers, who missed out on a handful of potential targets during the first week of free agency as they pursued Kawhi, writes Bill Oram of The Athletic. The team has since pivoted by reaching deals with Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, JaVale McGee, and Quinn Cook.

Raptors:

  • Leonard told his Raptors teammates via text message that he was leaving just as the news was breaking late on Friday night, according to Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter link).
  • Losing Leonard – and starting shooting guard Danny Green – sets the Raptors on a new path, according to Blake Murphy of The Athletic, who explores what’s next for the franchise. While there will be calls to blow things up, Murphy suggests that the current Raptors should still be a playoff team, adding that Toronto may be reluctant to take on unwanted multiyear contracts in any trades, given how much money will come off its cap in 2020.
  • Chris Mannix of SI.com (Twitter link) speculates that the Raptors will explore potential trades of their veterans on expiring contracts – such as Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol, and Serge Ibaka – as they look ahead to building around young players like Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet.
  • Eric Koreen of The Athletic acknowledges that Masai Ujiri will likely gauge the value of his veterans on the trade market, but agrees with Murphy that the Raptors are more likely to keep their roster more or less intact in a transition year.

Paul George Trade Roundup: Kawhi, Davis, Trade Request, Durant

In a shocking move early Saturday morning, the Thunder agreed to trade one of their two superstars, Paul George, to the Clippers. The move facilitated the Clippers pairing George with Kawhi Leonard, who agreed to a four-year pact with the organization earlier in the morning.

The landscape of the league has been altered with the Clippers and their crosscourt rival Lakers expected to dominate headlines this forthcoming season. The process that led to the Clippers becoming one of the NBA’s powerhouses included a lot of moving parts, a lot of communication and a heavily involved Leonard.

Before George to L.A. became a possibility, Leonard had reached out to Kevin Durant about the possibility of the duo teaming up with the Clippers, per ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. Leonard told Durant he “admired him, and had tremendous respect for him as a competitor,” according to Shelburne. While Durant appreciated the recruitment from Leonard, he was already set on pairing with Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan in Brooklyn.

Therefore, the process moved on and Leonard set his sights on pairing with another superstar: Paul George.

Here are some more tidbits on George being traded to the Clippers:

  • In Shelburne’s report, she noted that Leonard’s camp attempted to delay the consummation of the Anthony Davis to the Lakers trade until “as late as Sunday.” No reason was provided to the Lakers, only that the request be honored if the organization wanted to stay in the running for his services. We had relayed that Leonard’s free agency decision was holding up a series of moves, the Davis trade being one of them.
  • Shelburne also noted that Leonard, who is known for his quiet demeanor both on and off the court, took an active, engaging role during free agency. “For a quiet guy, he’s a hell of a recruiter,” one source told her. Sam Amick of The Athletic heard a similar account of Leonard’s activity during free agency: “Kawhi recruited the hell out of him,” one source told Amick. “He did a number on Paul.”
  • The Thunder organization was blindsided by George’s trade request, ESPN’s Royce Young writes. It was just one year ago when George decided to forego free agency and re-sign with OKC on a long-term pact. The Palmdale, California, native had long been rumored to want to play for his hometown Lakers; now he will return home but will suit up for the Clippers.
  • With George gone, the Thunder secured quite the haul their now-former superstar. While OKC had planned to compete next season, led by George and Russell Westbrook, the focus is now on a rebuild. Brett Dawson of The Athletic examined how and why the trade went down and which directions are available to the Thunder. Whether it’s dealing Westbrook and going full rebuild or trying to build a roster more suited toward their MVP’s style, OKC has a lot of decisions to make.