Life comes at you fast.
The Clippers were considered by many to be a distant third to the Lakers and the Raptors in the chase for Kawhi Leonard. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, the Clippers didn’t just acquire Kawhi, but they also nabbed Paul George in a monumental trade that saw OKC receiving five 1st round picks, two pick swaps, and two players. A high price to pay, but the Clippers should now be considered one of the frontrunners for the 2019-2020 season.
Saying that the Clippers are loaded is an understatement. They have two MVP caliber players, three All-NBA defenders, two elite bench players, and depth at almost every position. This isn’t to say that they are going to jackknife through the competition, but they are going to give damn near everyone fits every night. Kawhi just came off a brilliant post-season with the Toronto Raptors and his addition to any squad would instantly make them contenders.
What these moves do in the grand scheme of the NBA is that it creates parity. There is actual balance and now the league is seemingly wide open. Kawhi’s departure from Toronto opens the door for other Eastern conference teams. The Pacers, 76ers, Celtics, Nets, and Bucks can all make legitimate claims in the East. While the Jazz, Clippers, Lakers, Nuggets, and Trailblazers are all going to be vying for the Western crown. It should ultimately make for a competitive regular season and hectic post-season.
This could be the second year that LeBron James isn’t in the Finals and it also could mark the end of the Warriors run as championship contenders. There are so many interesting and varied matchups that this will be one of the first seasons that should generate intrigue throughout the entire league year. Every game this regular should feel far more important than in years past, because a number teams will have a legitimate shot at making the finals. Which is something that couldn’t be said without this move.
The Clippers knew that getting Kawhi would be a monumental challenge and it wouldn’t have shocked anyone if they didn’t land him. Their cross-court rivals are the more popular brand, featuring one of the greatest players of all time and will now have another top-3 player – Anthony Davis – as his running mate. Not only did the Clippers throw the kitchen sink at OKC for Paul George, but they leveraged Toronto in the process, fully aware that they could not be outbid.
This free agency period has been marred with drama. A number of players have changed teams, all trying to load up for the upcoming season. But, none of that would’ve mattered if Kawhi would’ve went to the Lakers. A team of LeBron, AD, and Kawhi would have devastated most teams. It would’ve made the regular season uninteresting, but now, you have balance the likes the league hasn’t seen in years.
All it took was a stealth decision from Kawhi Leonard and the league erupted. Now, various media pundits have egg in their face due to their false claims to understanding Kawhi’s thinking. One man changed the NBA overnight and surprisingly his name isn’t LeBron James. Kawhi brought the NBA to a screeching halt and now has every team scrambling to fill out their rosters. Most free agencies will see player turnover, but not at this rate and not with the impact that this period has had.
Welcome to the new NBA, courtesy of Kawhi and PG13. Could be one of the most memorable in history, it’s just a bit sad that it came at the expense of Russell Westbrook and the OKC Thunder. Sacrifices have to be made though, it’s unfortunate, but one team was going to have to bite the bullet. Fans everywhere, with the exception of a few, have to be enthralled with the prospect of a league that’s seemingly wide open. This season is going to be crazy.