Turns out Kawhi Leonard wasn’t agonizing over his decision after all. No, he was working back channels with Paul George while making it clear to the Clippers he wanted to team up with the Palmdale, CA native on their team. The Clippers, seemingly understanding this was the time to strike and secure Leonard gave up a trove of assets to trade for George, from the Thunder.
While this is truly disappointing for Lakers fans, my disappointment only goes so far. The Lakers still have LeBron James and Anthony Davis and will now build out the rest of their roster (more on this in a separate post) to build a team that can, hopefully, compete for the championship. And while I wonder how well Rob Pelinka will be able to do this on the fly, I believe there is enough talent left on the market to make a run this year.
That, though, is a conversation for another day. Congrats to the Clippers, they gave up a lot, but they got their guys.
Lastly, I just want to say that there will be a lot of second guessing about the Lakers pursuit of Kawhi and how waiting for his decision cost them chances at other free agents. While I understand this perspective, I still believe this was a chance the team had to take. When you have an opportunity to sign one of the best players in the world and believe there’s mutual interest there, you push your chips into the center of the table and play your hand to the best of your ability.
The Lakers did not have the cards this time. It happens. Time to regroup and go to your plan B. Now we get to see what Rob Pelinka and crew are really made of.