A major power shift in the NBA took place overnight when Kawhi Leonard decided to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers, who also traded for Oklahoma City Thunder superstar, and MVP candidate Paul George.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Leonard will ink a four-year, $141 million contract with the Clippers, who were extra motivated to be aggressive in an effort to keep Leonard from joining Anthony Davis and LeBron James on the Lakers.
To seal the deal with Leonard, the Clippers are sending Oklahoma City their unprotected 2022, 2024 and 2026 picks, their unprotected 2021 and protected 2023 first-round picks via Miami, and the rights to swap picks with the Clippers in 2023 and 2025, along with point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari in exchange for George.
George and Leonard wanted to play with one another, and George reportedly approached Thunder general manager Sam Presti in the past few days to request a trade.
George may miss the first few weeks of the upcoming NBA season as he continues to recover from shoulder surgery, but when he and Leonard team up, they immediately push the Clippers into title contention.
Welcome to the new Lakers/Clippers rivalry, and the new NBA, where players dictate everything and super-teams are more common then ever.
While NBA commissioner Adam Silver should be commended for how the league has been forward thinking and innovative in certain areas, there are major flaws with the NBA landscape, from the wonky NBA draft lottery process to the new era of the super team.
Furthermore, players can force their hand in virtually any situation, as this has taught us, the Anthony Davis trade taught us, and Jimmy Butler proved a number of times over the past year.
Players can get out, despite massive contracts, when they want out, and land in places they want to land, showing that the “super team” is the way to go.
This offseason alone, the Brooklyn Nets, Lakers, and Clippers have made massive moves, either via trade or free agency, to construct a super-team.
Money is no object. The luxury tax is no hurdle. And contracts? What about them?
Silver’s NBA is become a “rich get richer” league in terms of roster composition.
LeBron James can be credited with kickstarting this movement, because when has he won anything without a pair of All-Stars joining him on the journey (ex: Miami, Cleveland, maybe the Lakers).
Trades are becoming the new free agency, and a salary cap is just a speed limit that nobody seems to adhere to.
As super teams build, with only a few around the league, the NBA, which is comprised of 30 teams, essentially drops down to a 5-10 team league, essentially.
While smaller market teams continue to tread water, it’s hard for them to get to a competitive state due to the new “super team” craze.
And while Leonard may have earned to right to make his championship quest a bit easier by teaming up with another MVP caliber player, after he put the Toronto Raptors on his back to win the 2019 NBA Championship, the super team is still a problem, and it is only getting worse.
Parody in the NBA takes another hit. Small market teams take another L, and the NBA Elite Players continue to team up to bully the rest of the league, often switching jerseys as often as they switch socks to ensure they monopolize the competitive landscape.
While these super-teams are fun to watch, it presents a scary glimpse at a future NBA that could compromise the next generation of the NBA, but also muddy up the record books with inflated stats, numbers, and records.
Adam Silver needs to address the NBA’s new problem, as it may, eventually, anchor down the good work he has done.
Clippers’ Paul George Booed by Pacers Fans
Los Angeles Clipper superstar Paul George wasn’t fazed by the relentless boos showered down on him during Monday’s game in Indianapolis against the Indiana Pacers, the team he spent several seasons with before requesting a trade in 2017, in fact, George teased a tell-all in which he will tell his side of the story that led to his trade request, hinting that he is set to take aim at many within the organization.
As far as the boos, George says the fans are booing the wrong people. George, who dropped 36 points in the victory, was booed every time he touched the ball, and was subjected to chants of “Paul George s—!” during the game, was playing back in Indiana for the third time since the trade.
“I’m not surprised,” George said, according to ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk. “That’s Indiana for you. It’s a Hoosier thing.”
“You know, someday I’ll do a tell-all and tell the leading events of how I left Indiana,” George said. “And I promise you, I’m not the one to boo.”
“… I’m not gonna share the teaser,” George continued. “… I like being the villain. I’m here two nights out of the year. The people they should boo is here a lot longer than I am.”
George was pressed by the media to divulge details, specifically about general manager Kevin Pritchard who said George’s trade request was like a punch to the gut.
“You’re getting close to trying to get this story out, aren’t you?” George asked. “… I’m not going to bad-mouth KP. That’s just Kevin’s side of the story.”
George has excelled in every game back in Indiana since the trade, and Monday’s game marked the third straight time he scored 31 points or more against his former team. However, judging from George’s post-game comments, he may be saving his best performance yet against the Pacers organization.
Clippers Owner Steve Ballmer Says New Arena “Moving Along”
Despite an ongoing legal battle with Madison Square Garden and New York Knicks owner James Dolan, Los Angeles Clippers’ owner Steve Ballmer says their new proposed arena in Inglewood, California is on track, according to ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk.
While NBA commissioner Adam Silver supports Ballmer’s plan to build a new arena for the Clippers, Dolan has created hurdles as he and MSG have attempted to block the construction of Ballmer’s arena.
“We’re on a path where we think we can build the arena, whatever happens in the litigation,” Ballmer said when asked for an update on the arena, which is proposed to be built for 2024, when the team’s lease with Staples Center ends. “We’re moving along. … The other side is just trying to slow us down a little bit. But it’s another thing where we’re grinders. We’re long-term players and we’re grinders.
“You want to hit us in the nose? OK! We’ll keep moving. You can’t knock us down! I’m not sure they understand what they’ve gotten themselves into, from my perspective in the sense that we’ll just keep going. They did really participate in blocking that Jets [proposed] stadium in New York. They did. It was supposed to be there some place on the west side of town. We’re going to keep patient. We have plenty of time. Keep patient, keep going.”
Ballmer also pointed out how the partnership with the NBA, and essentially with fellow NBA owners, is odd, saying litigation has made it an awkward situation with another NBA team owner.
“My partner in the NBA! It’s a weird form of partnership,” Ballmer said, referring to Dolan.
Silver commented on the lawsuit during the NBA Finals back in May.
“I have talked to Jim Dolan and Steve Ballmer about that lawsuit,” Silver said at the time. “Obviously, it’s not something you like to see between partners in the NBA. I don’t think there’s a role for the league at the moment, but it’s something that we’re paying a lot of attention to.”
It’s so weird that it’s in the same town,” Ballmer said. “The fact that we play in the same building, we get the worst nights. It’s Monday Night Football, who’s going to play? The Clippers. That’s true by lease. Our lease says we get the least favorable nights after the [NHL’s] Kings and the Lakers.
Ballmer also chimed in regarding the reception that Lakers fans gave Leonard, when they booed him as he was shown on the big screen at a Los Angeles Rams game recently.
“I’m not saying it’s bad, but it certainly was an adjustment for me,” Ballmer said about not having the support of all Los Angeles fans despite having two teams in the city. “I had to get my mind around … like what do you mean you’re not cheering for our team? I wasn’t there, but I read that Kawhi was at a Rams game and he’s getting booed?
“What the hell are you talking about? That’s our freaking guy! That guy is awesome! What are you doing?” Ballmer said as he raised his voice in excitement and pounded the table, defending his star player. “What’s wrong with you? Anyway, that’s my reaction.”
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Clippers’ Paul George Targeting November Return
Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul George says he will not play in the preseason and is targeting a November return from surgeries he had on both shoulders during the offseason, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne.
George added that he still has “a little ways to go” in his rehab, but added that “I’m where I want to be right now at this point in the season almost starting. I like where the progression is going”, during an interview on SportsCenter.
“I will be out of the preseason,” George said during his appearance on ESPN. “As of now, I’ll be out of October fully, but who knows? We’ll see. In the November range is our target date.”
George underwent right rotator cuff surgery to repair a partially torn tendon in his right shoulder in May, and a minor surgery to repair a partial tear of his left labrum in June.
George, 29, was acquired from the Oklahoma City Thunder, via trade, during the offseason
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