Pic c/o Yahoo Sports
NBA Free Agency 2019 was one for the books. Not in decades have we seen so many stars moving to different franchises in one swoop. Kyrie and KD became bound for Brooklyn, Anthony Davis joined LeBron in Laker land, D’Angelo Russell swapped the East Coast (Nets) for the West Coast (Warriors), Russell Westbrook gets flipped from OKC to Houston in a trade that sends Chris Paul to the Thunder, and then the earth rumbling moves that had many in the NBA left stunned: Kawhi signs with the L.A. Clippers and the Clippers trade for Paul George who’d just signed an extension with OKC last season. Kawhi does not have social media but *was interviewed by ESPN after the official introduction of Paul George and himself at a Clippers introductory media conference yesterday. At the introduction, Leonard appeared to take shots at the Lakers, the team he was favored to land with this off-season: “As far as the last few years, as far as a basketball standpoint, the Clippers have been better. It’s media, you know what I mean. They’re gonna get the attention, they’re the Los Angeles Lakers, they’ve been winning championships for a long time. It’s just a media aspect. Even if we do win, who knows how the Clippers will change over. I don’t feel like I’m focused on that. I just want to win, and I do things that make myself and my teammates happy. Whatever’s our goal in mind, that’s gonna be my focus and drive to just make us happy. If we go to the championship and win, and we’re not getting no coverage, that’s fine by me.” Kawhi also said Magic Johnson leaking the information after their conversation had nothing to do with his decision to decline signing with the Lakers. Kawhi’s camp had one particularly strict guideline in place when meeting with each team: do NOT leak any information to anyone. Magic Johnson, being a social butterfly, couldn’t help moving his fingers to let people know what had just occurred with the biggest free agent left on the market. Did that get him in trouble with the Kawhi Leonard camp? We may never know. Kawhi denied that being the case, but being the sneaky guy Kawhi is, that very well could be true. Regardless, Kawhi is now a Clipper. As a 20-year Lakers fan, it kills me to not see a “big 3” in Staples Center trying to get the Lakers their first title in a decade. However, LeBron and Anthony Davis along with Kyle Kuzma, DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo, and crew will try to end the drought this coming May. The Clippers are rising and hats off to Jerry West, Doc Rivers, Lawrence Frank, and Steve Balmer for what they have accomplished the past 10 years. Kawhi was dead on. The Clippers have been more relevant than the Lakers in recent years. We saw their own “Lob City” trio of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan consistently reach the playoffs every year, but always fell short of the Western Conference Finals. This past season, they gave the Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors a six game battle as an 8 seed and with no superstar on the roster. Now, they have a pair of superstars to go with a pesky unit of players. The sky is the limit for Kawhi and his new running mate Paul George (aka PG13).