The City of Angels
The Clippers pulled off the biggest heist in years, landing both Kawhi Leonard. In the dead of the night (link), as the news broke Kawhi was coming back West, it only was amplified as the announcement was right after the Clippers managed to successfully trade for Paul George. While it was speculated for a year Kawhi wanted to be a Clipper, no one had any idea Paul George was available to join him, especially when we are only a year removed from his re-signing in Oklahoma City. In what was the most enigmatic arrangement of recent memory, Kawhi did what he wanted, on his own terms (even after Kevin Durant said, “no”), and managed to damage the set-up of the Lakers free agency plans. Two years after breaking down the franchise, setting up a new front office (with Jerry West included), and making intelligent trades, the Clippers are rewarded, giving their beloved fans a team they can legitimately call elite. Jerry West in your front office seems to correlate eventual success, from his time with the Lakers, Warriors, and now Clippers. Sure, the Clippers gave up the largest haul in NBA history to get PG13, but this transaction has to be seen deeper than surface level. The Clippers traded away everything to get both PG13 and Kawhi Leonard, which is more than worth it. Now, Clip City has superstars, defense, along with depth needed to put them in a position not only to be competitive but legitimately compete for a title.
In the same building, while their big brothers of Los Angeles didn’t land Kawhi, they didn’t completely fail their respective free agency summer either. The Lakers still have LeBron James and were able to acquire Anthony Davis, who is arguably the best player LeBron has ever had as a teammate. Missing out on Kawhi has its consequences as the free agency market shrank up while they waited but the Lakers were still able to assemble a decent team. Notably, they were able to sign Danny Green and DeMarcus Cousins, who could be the steal of free agency if healthy in year two removed from injury. It’s not the death star line up Lakers fans imagined, but the team is already a far cry from what they were last season. LeBron is approaching 60,000 minutes at a historic rate, but this part of his career is starting to feel like Tom Brady, we know father time is going to win eventually but just not yet. LeBron and AD are going to be hard to bet against. Whether it’s the Clippers or Lakers, what’s known for sure: Staples Center feels like Hollywood again.