Kawhi Leonard Flexes His Muscles
According to Doc Rivers, Kawhi Leonard demanded that the Clippers get Paul George. Rivers sat down for a candid interview with the Los Angeles Times where he went into detail about how the Clippers ended up with the dynamic duo of Leonard and George.
Apparently the Clippers presented Kawhi with a list of players to choose from and he wanted Paul George. Rivers admits in hindsight that was a mistake because it allowed him to decide who he wanted to play with. Attempts to get him to choose another player on the list were futile so the team was left with no choice but to go after Paul George.
Rivers Claims Thunder Wanted to Break Up Their Team
One of the most surprising revelations from the interview was when Rivers said that he knew the Thunder wanted to break up their team. Oklahoma City for their part have not confirmed or denied his claim. It was always believed that Paul George asked to be traded. The fact that the Thunder would accept his request a year after signing him to an extension seemed curious at the time. Regardless of the Thunder’s disappointing end to the season, George was a legit MVP candidate for three quarters of the season until his shoulder injury.
Rivers comments makes all of Oklahoma City’s moves much more logical. If they wanted a clean slate, they got a king’s ransom in return for George. Once he was dealt, moving from Russell Westbrook was the next logical step for a team looking to hit the reset button.
Kawhi Named His Price and the Clippers Paid Up
Over the course of his NBA career, Kawhi Leonard has always been seen as the quiet star who goes about his business. Apparently he isn’t as quiet and soft spoken as some would like to believe. Doc Rivers says that in the meeting with him and team owner Steve Ballmer, he made very firm demands.
He apparently pointed right at coach Rivers and told him, “I want to play for you”. His next quote is the most revealing. He told Steve Ballmer “Mr. Ballmer, I love the things you do and what you stand for, but your team is not good enough, and if you don’t change your team, I’m not coming.”
That type of quote is something you expect to be associated with LeBron James and his circle. Most people around the league accuse them of trying to control whatever organization LeBron plays for. It looks like we might need to change our perception of Kawhi somewhat in light of these new details.
It’s Championship or Bust for Clippers
In meeting Kawhi Leonard’s demands, the Los Angeles Clippers mortgaged their future. While that wasn’t Kawhi Leonard’s decision, he set the wheels in motion with his request to play with Paul George. Clippers fans won’t mind for now because it gives their team the best shot they’ve ever had to win a title. The Clippers are currently at +450 in 5Dimes list of odds to win the 2020 NBA Championship.
The problem comes in two years when both Leonard and George have player options that were included in their contracts. The possibility does exist that the two of them would only be around for a few years before they can walk. Meanwhile the Clippers have no first round picks until 2026 which will be a franchise killer if these two stars leave. If the Clippers can win a championship in that span, none of their fans will care about being bad in the future. If they don’t win a championship, Clipper nation will probably put all of the blame on Kawhi Leonard for putting them in this position. It’s championship or bust for the Los Angeles Clippers and Kawhi wouldn’t have it any other way