Ladies and gentlemen, Kawhi Leonard made his choice. AND HOW. So did Paul George, who no one even seemed to be aware was on the table for anyone. The Clippers landed Kawhi and traded for the quietly disgruntled Paul George in one fell swoop early Saturday morning after (no joke) a large earthquake in Southern California shut down NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.
In other words, this ended perfectly representative of the 2019 NBA free agency period: in an hours-long loop of the infamous LeBron Wow GIF.
Here’s the brief recap: Kawhi signed with the Clippers straight up and apparently pushed Paul George to turn on the Thunder. PG-13 went to the Thunder with a trade request one year into his 4-year contract. OKC agreed to play ball, and engaged with the Clippers who, contingent on this being a package deal for Kawhi and George, sent a bounty to the Thunder: four future unprotected picks, a future protected pick, two future pick swap options, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Danilo Gallinari.
Now Russell Westbrook is riding solo in OKC again, while Kawhi has a devastating sidekick in Los Angeles, moving the Clippers way up the NBA pecking order.
Here are your winniners and losers from the blockbuster turn of events. Here’s Paul Flannery on Kawhi being exactly who he said he is.
The Russ-Stakes Are Next
I can’t help the feeling that Russell Westbrook is going to be on the move before long. It’s hard to imagine him being traded by the Thunder given what he means to the franchise after Kevin Durant broke OKC’s heart, and frankly it’s hard to imagine many teams taking on that contract. The Hornets seem like a team just desperate and a bit off enough to engage. There are always the Knicks. Lots of players in the league do love Westbrook. They might not love playing with him, but they love him as a person. So perhaps he can be a future sidekick on an upstart superteam.
The Thunder were supposed to have a boring offseason. So much for that.
Ricky O’Donnell suggests Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett can be the LeBron vs. Melo of this generation.
Danny Green signed with the Lakers. Here are the top nine free agents remaining.
Bruce Arthur on Kawhi giving Toronto everything and then going home.
The Thunder were totally blindsided by Paul George’s trade request.
And finally: all hail Coco Gauff.
Be excellent to each other.