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#pounditFriday, January 22, 2021

Report: Clippers feared Kawhi Leonard would join Lakers without George trade

The narrative emerging from the Los Angeles Clippers’ acquisition of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George is that the team simply felt they had no choice but to make the deals in order to fend off competition and perhaps stop a dynasty from forming in their own backyard.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Clippers believed that, unless they dealt for George, Leonard would sign with the Los Angeles Lakers to play with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, potentially shifting the balance of power their way for years to come.

The Clippers also feared Toronto in trade negotiations. At one point, Clippers’ brass reportedly feared that Oklahoma City Thunder GM Sam Presti was close to a deal with the Raptors that would have sent George there, a move the player would have been willing to make. Ultimately, such a deal was never close, as Presti played the Clippers against the Raptors to get a huge return for George.

The Clippers were clearly given the impression that their only chance of landing Leonard was by acquiring George, and they could have faced huge consequences if they didn’t do so. With that in mind, they simply did what they felt they had to do.

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