The L.A. Clippers followed up years of dysfunction and irrelevancy with, perhaps, their best summer in franchise history. The signings of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard put them back on the map of contention in the West.
But had the Clippers not traded for PG first, they might have not ended up with Kawhi, either.
In an interesting revelation by L.A. coach Doc Rivers, they were only able to secure Kawhi if they traded for Paul George first.
“I actually tried to speak to him last season a couple times as he was walking by and you get nothing out of him. Nothing,” Rivers said. “He comes into this meeting and he shakes our hands and he’s talking. We were prepared for a meeting where we would have to drag things out of him. Instead, he’s the one talking and finally he tells us exactly what the deal is.
“He said, ‘I want to play for you,’ and he pointed at me. He said, ‘Mr. Ballmer, I love the things you do and what you stand for, but your team is not good enough and if you don’t change your team, I’m not coming.’ ”
According to coach, they actually had a list of potential candidates.
It was a franchise-altering case of good news and bad news: Leonard wanted to be a Clipper but wouldn’t make the jump unless the team was able to get him a running mate to make them championship contenders.
“We actually had a list of guys, which was a mistake, but we got lucky,” Rivers said. “We shouldn’t have had a list, because then he got to choose who he wanted to play with and the assumption was that we could get them. We didn’t know if we could get anybody. We just showed him guys that we thought would match him and when he saw Paul George’s name he said, ‘I want to play with him.’
Once they secured Paul George via trade, Kawhi was ready to commit.
Now, as the newest NBA duo prepares for a new era together they hope to find the success this franchise has sorely lacked since the birth of their existence.