The L.A. Clippers have lived in the shadow of the Lakers since the dawn of their existence. After years of subpar seasons, they became an after-thought as the second team in Los Angeles.
So, what was holding them back from leaving the city altogether? Well, nothing, until Kawhi Leonard came to town. In a chat with the Sports Daily, Clippers coach Doc Rivers hinted that the team would have gone back to Seattle had they not acquired Kawhi.
“The day of the trade at 12 noon the deal was off,” Rivers said. “I was at home in Malibu and Lawrence called me and told me, ‘It looks like he’s either going to Toronto or the Lakers.’ The Lakers part just threw me over. I told him that can’t happen. … I remember I kept telling him, ‘We cannot allow that to happen!’
“I actually told Steve jokingly that if that happens, we’re moving the team to Seattle. It was a joke, but I was actually serious about it. I really believed that.”
It sounds crazy, but Ballmer does have strong ties to Seattle, so there is a reason to think he would be open to going back. He’s made it clear that he is willing to change the nickname, so relocation certainly could’ve been in the cards as well.
With the arrival of Kawhi and PG, it’s unlikely the Clippers will ever move to Seattle. But it doesn’t mean everybody else shouldn’t. Seattle deserves an NBA team, and there are still multiple doors to which that might be possible.