Posted on July 6, 2019, by Travis Pulver
NBA fans have had a pretty good idea what the competitive landscape will look like next season with most of the significant free agency deals done within hours of free agency opening. But one player had kept the picture from becoming clear—Kawhi Leonard.
As it turns out, it was because another player was going to be involved, Paul George.
Late Friday night, the announcement hit the media and began making the rounds online. As it turns out, Kawhi Leonard was heading to Los Angeles, but not to play with the Lakers as many expected. Instead, he will be joining the Lakers as will George.
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The news of Leonard’s move was not a shocking one, but the George trade caught people by surprise. When he left Indiana, it was well-known that he wanted to play out in Los Angeles. But when he signed with the Thunder, it was assumed that he had gotten over that desire.
Apparently, he hadn’t.
But, since the Thunder were operating from such a position of strength, they were able to get quite a haul from the Clippers in exchange for George (five first-round picks, the right to swap two others, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari).
So, now, there are two super teams in Los Angeles—the Lakers (LeBron James and Anthony Davis) and the Clippers (Kawhi Leonard and Paul George). As could be expected, their odds to win it all next season are better than everyone else (via BetOnline.ag):
- Los Angeles Clippers +300
- Los Angeles Lakers +400
- Milwaukee Bucks +500
- Philadelphia 76ers +800
- Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets +1400
- Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz +1600
- Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Toronto Raptors +2000
- Indiana Pacers +3300
- Dallas Mavericks, Portland Trail Blazers +4000
- Oklahoma City Thunder +5000
- Miami Heat, New Orleans Pelicans, San Antonio Spurs +6600
- New York Knicks, Orlando Magic +10000
- Atlanta Hawks +12500
- Charlotte Hornets, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves, Sacramento Kings, Washington Wizards +15000
- Phoenix Suns +25000
However, there is a good chance we will see a little more movement. Since the news broke on Leonard and George, the Lakers have re-signed Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. They have also picked up Danny Green from the Raptors and DeMarcus Cousins.
So, yeah—the Clippers may be favored for now which doesn’t mean anything until the season starts.
But what will be really interesting to see going forward is how the rest of the NBA responds. Will they stand pat or will someone else join the arms race?
It sounds like Russell Westbrook may be available at some point in the near future. Since the Thunder are not likely going to be competitive, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to carry a contract like Westbrook has. Instead, if they were to put him on the block, they could name their price— and possibly get an even bigger haul than the one they got for George.
Now that Toronto is not much of a competitor, it wouldn’t be shocking to see them try to trade some of their talent on expiring contracts for building blocks.
The excitement we were expecting may be done, but with the NBA, there is no telling what could happen next.