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Free agent forward and Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard has made his free agent decision and perhaps not surprisingly, it’s a team in his hometown of Los Angeles.
Just not the LA team a lot of people expected.
Leonard will sign with the Los Angeles Clippers, spurning LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the Lakers for LA’s “other” team.
Leonard leaves the Toronto Raptors after one season, in which he led Canada’s lone NBA franchise to its first championship. But he will not go to the Clippers alone.
He will soon be joined by another LA-produced star, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George, who the Clippers will acquire in a trade.
Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports was the first to report that Leonard had decided to join the Clippers.
Meanwhile, the acquisition of George was first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
“Oklahoma City is getting a massive package of future picks, including Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Galllinari, to deliver Kawhi Leonard who he wanted to partner with: Paul George,” Wojnarowski reported.
That massive package of picks? According to Wojnarowski, along with Gilgeous-Alexander and Gallinari, the Thunder will receive four unprotected first-rounders.
George and Thunder point guard and fellow star Russell Westbrook reportedly were at odds during the season, according to Shams Charania of Stadium — a well-known fact to opposing teams.
“Leonard pushed the Clippers in recent days to deliver him a second star, and they did,” Charania reported.
Leonard, 28, averaged a career-high 26.6 points and 7.3 rebounds in 60 games this past regular season.
George, 29, averaged 28.0 points and 8.2 boards in 77 games with the Thunder.
Leonard and George met in Los Angeles earlier in the week, and had the Clippers not executed the trade for George, it’s unlikely Leonard would have signed on, Wojnarowski reported. “The Clippers imagined Leonard as part of a Lakers Big 3 — and knew they had no choice,” he added. “They did the OKC deal.”
According to Wojnarowski, Leonard decided against forming another super team with the Lakers, instead telling Clippers brass that he would come if they worked out a trade for George.
The top remaining free agents are likely to now start falling into place with new franchises after Saturday morning’s Leonard-George shakeup.
Leonard’s deal with the Clippers is reportedly for four years and $142 million.