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.