If George didn’t get his wish, would he be fully engaged? And if he wasn’t, would he go public with his trade demand during the season? That worst-case scenario could have left the Thunder with a disgruntled superstar undercutting his own trade value. There was no easy way out for Oklahoma City. But there was a strong sense, sources said, the Clippers needed George to secure Leonard. And that gave the Thunder some leverage that was unlikely to be available in the future.
Ramona Shelburne: Much will be made of the Lakers and Raptors end of this. But as of about 2 hours before Leonard chose the Clippers Friday night, his camp was asking the Lakers to delay the AD trade until Sat/Sun, sources tell ESPN. No reason given. Just a condition.
It became clear later, sources said Friday night, that George and Leonard had been engaging in conversations about playing together. Within the last week, sources said, Leonard sold George on the notion of pairing up on the Clippers — a sales pitch strong enough George’s agent, Aaron Mintz, communicated to OKC a desire to trade his client.
George demanded this trade of the Thunder, making it clear in recent days that if they didn’t cooperate he would keep looking for ways to join Leonard in these final two seasons of his contract (he has a player option for 2021-22 worth $37.8 million). They worried about the alternative scenarios, about what those trade offers might look like next year once everyone knew that he had wanted out.
Some time in the last few days, George's agent, Aaron Mintz, called Thunder general manager Sam Presti and requested George be traded. It was a complete and total blindside to the Thunder, but came because Kawhi Leonard had been working to recruit George to join him with the Los Angeles Clippers. In the end, despite George signing a four-year deal with the Thunder last summer, he remained a free agent.
Chris Haynes: Kawhi Leonard and his camp found it comical throughout the process that he was “reportedly” headed to every team but the Clippers. In the end, his small circle kept everyone guessing. And that’s what occurred: guessing.
Adam Wexler: Pat Beverley & Lou Williams tonight after they added two new teammates (Kawhi & Paul George). (via Pat Bev’s IG).
Bobby Marks: Toronto will have the full $9.2M midlevel exception and $3.6M biannual exception available to use. The Raptors are over the salary cap even with Kawhi Leonard not returning.
Michael Lee: Clippers made their intentions known how much they wanted Kawhi. Had a pro personnel scout at every game. Doc Rivers took a tampering fine for him. For a loyal guy who chose San Diego State over bigger programs because of its early interest & persistence, this makes so much sense
Ryan Wolstat: Kawhi Leonard lost $90 million (Spurs and Raptors) to eventually team up with Paul George with the Clippers. Would never have happened in the old days when contracts weren't so high. Would have been way too much money to leave on the table. In era of $30-40M+/yr deals not as big.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Sources: Leonard and George met in LA earlier in week. Clippers had long been frontrunners for Leonard, but it is unlikely he would've made final leap to sign without PG trade. Clippers imagined Leonard as part of a Lakers Big 3 --- and knew they had no choice. They did OKC deal.
Adrian Wojnarowski: In the end, Kawhi Leonard didn't want to construct a Super Team with the Lakers. He wanted a co-star across the Staples corridor with the Clippers, and made it clear to Steve Ballmer and Lawrence Frank: Get PG, and I'm coming.
Sam Amick: Source, to @TheAthletic: After a heavy recruiting effort from Kawhi Leonard, Paul George made it very clear to OKC in recent days that this Clippers trade is what he wanted. He gets his trade demand fulfilled, and now Russell Westbrook's future is certainly in question.
Brett Dawson: Paul George wanted to play with Kawhi Leonard, and the Thunder acted quickly to maximize what they could get out of that desire. I’ve not been told Westbrook is requesting a trade. But logic dictates as OKC loads up on picks and moves off George that it’ll look to move him.
Brett Dawson: Per a league source, the Thunder were caught off guard by Paul George’s desire to play with Kawhi Leonard after a strong recruiting effort from Leonard. The whole situation unfolded in recent days.
Bobby Marks: Timeline for LAC 1. Leonard will sign with cap space 2. Danilo Gallinari/Gilgeous-Alexander for Paul George using the 125% trade exception
Ira Winderman: Remember, Clippers have Heat's unprotected 2021 and lottery-protected 2023 to package. The first one originally was in the 2015 Dragic trade, the latest for the salary dump to add Jimmy Butler.
Oleh Kosel: Adrian Wojnarowski on ESPN right now: "Paul George came to the Thunder in the last couple of days and asked to be traded to the Clippers. He wanted to play with Kawhi Leonard."
Free-agent forward Kawhi Leonard has agreed to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Leonard is coming off an all-time NBA playoff run that saw him lead the Toronto Raptors to Canada’s first NBA title.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Sources: Oklahoma City is getting a massive package of future picks, including Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Galllinari, to deliver Kawhi Leonard who he wanted to partner with: Paul George.
Adrian Wojnarowski: After Leonard pushed George to find a way to get to the Clippers, Paul George approached the team and requested a trade, league sources tell ESPN. OKC was left with no choice and made the best out of a difficult situation, per sources.
Chris Haynes: Free agent forward Kawhi Leonard will sign with the Los Angeles Clippers, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Free agent forward Kawhi Leonard has informed runners-up teams of his plans: He's signing with the Clippers, league sources tell ESPN.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Oklahoma City is trading All-Star Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers for a record-setting collection of draft choices, league sources tell ESPN.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Kawhi Leonard has been recruiting Paul George to find a way to get to the Clippers and LA pulled it off tonight: George goes to the Clippers with Leonard, and together they walk into Staples Center to go head-to-head with LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Green said he talks to Leonard — who has maintained a low profile over the last week despite elaborate attempts to track his every move and brainwave — from time to time. But he, like the city of Toronto and the rest of the country, is still waiting for a decision. “Has it surprised me? No. Did I think it would take this long? No,” he said of Leonard’s deliberations over whether to stay and play for the Raptors, or leave for either the Clippers or Lakers in Los Angeles.
League sources told ESPN's Bobby Marks that the Pelicans, Hawks and Wizards are expected to cooperate with the Lakers if Leonard is still undecided by noon on Saturday. The July 6 date was agreed upon initially in the Lakers' and Pelicans' deal sending Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three first-round picks for Davis. The deal was based on the Lakers using the $32 million in cap space created on a max free agent like Leonard or on multiple free agents.
If the Pelicans, Hawks and Wizards do not agree to delay the date to make the trade official past July 6 should Leonard remain undecided, the Lakers' cap space would shrink to $30 million and Los Angeles would only be able to offer Leonard a four-year deal worth $127 million compared to the four-year, $138-million contract they can offer with $32 million available in cap space.
First Things First: "For Kawhi, this is about which organization is going to support his quest to be the best player in the world and get as many championships as possible. To me, the only team that presents that is the Lakers. I believe there's going to be an announcement today." — @criscarter80
As Kawhi Leonard takes his time deciding which NBA team he will sign with, fellow free agent Danny Green has done his best to not bother his longtime teammate throughout the process. "I try to leave him alone, man," Green said on Thursday, per Yahoo Sports Canada. "I already know [what] the hectic process is about, and everybody is probably blowing his phone up. So if I do communicate to him...it's through his camp."
As the most sought-after basketball player in the world after leading Toronto to its first NBA championship, Leonard is no longer the teenager who never received scholarship offers from blue-blood colleges. Times have changed, but everything about Leonard’s quiet handling of free agency has felt familiar for Hutson, one of only a few people in the world who knows what it is like to recruit, and land, Leonard. The major influences on Leonard — his mother, Kim Robertson, and uncle, Dennis Robertson — are the same now as they were in high school. “He’s going to make [his decision] on his own terms, his own time,” Hutson said. “He’s going to talk to the people important to him about it. He’s not going to be out leaking every little bit or have an announcement.”
“It was a fun recruitment, but he didn’t talk a whole lot. It wasn’t hard having a conversation with him at all if you were one-on-one with him. He wasn’t going to waste words. I think there are people trying to see that now, that he does have a personality. He has a really good personality. He’s just not going to volunteer it.”
Chris Broussard: Kawhi Update: Raptors had strong meeting yesterday. Drake heavily involved. Talked of having Kawhi involved w/his OVO record label. Kawhi in deep soul searching. Wants Lakers but wants to make sure Big 3 will fit/work. Clippers out. It’s btwn Lakers & Raptors. Very close.
Jabari Young: On the Kawhi front, told he’s not making a decision tonight and it may not be until the next few days. He and his reps are going through the process and taking their time before deciding the next move. No 2-year deals have been discussed. #NBA @TheAthleticNBA
As it played out, when Kevin Durant turned up his nose at the Knicks, the club realized any chance of nabbing Leonard without KD was a long shot. According to a source, Leonard agreed to meet with the Knicks, but not until Wednesday after finishing with the Clippers and Lakers. That plan was scratched by Knicks’ brass over logistics.
Arash Markazi: A $10,000 bet just came in on the Lakers at 7/4 to win the NBA Championship at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook. The last time that happened Anthony Davis’ trade to the Lakers was reported 30 minutes later.
Leonard taking his time to make an NBA-altering decision had some scouts attempting what so many others were doing -- trying to read into Leonard's thought process. "Biggest surprise I would have to say is that Kawhi still hasn't decided," one scout said on Tuesday night. "He is really mulling it over, exhausting every option." Said another scout: "Let's be honest, everyone knows that if the Warriors were healthy, they would have won. So is he sure if he comes back that he would have a chance to win it with [Toronto]? "If I'm him, I'm going to the Lakers."
Jabari Young: On the Kawhi front, told he’s not making a decision tonight and it may not be until the next few days. He and his reps are going through the process and taking their time before deciding the next move. No 2-year deals have been discussed. #NBA @The Athletic
Tim MacMahon: An NBA player likely to be impacted by the Kawhi decision dominoes texted me that he has heard the same thing. But that info/gossip is not coming directly from Kawhi Leonard or his advisors. #grainofsalt
Marc Stein: Live coverage on @cp24 as we speak on the Raptors' plane that just touched down in Toronto BELIEVED to be transporting Kawhi Leonard. So unfair we don't get the Canadian TV channels in the States
ShowtimeForum: “I was told to not expect a decision until at least later today, possibly tomorrow on July 4th.” @wojespn |🎥 @GetUpESPN
Free agent guard Danny Green might not wait for Kawhi Leonard’s decision before securing a new contract this summer. Green reportedly has the Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers, and Toronto Raptors on his short list of possible destinations. It is widely believed that he is waiting if Kawhi will stay in Toronto or sign with the Lakers before making a decision. But with Leonard remaining mum on his future, Green is reportedly considering signing with the Mavs. Green’s Inside The Green Room co-host Harrison Sanford said on the Ben & Skin Show on 105.3 The Fan that the two-time NBA champion “really valued what the Mavs have put in front of him.” And because of the lack of signs on where Leonard intends to ink a deal, Green is reportedly leaning towards making a decision soon. “Danny’s gotten to the point where he’s seriously considering passing on waiting for Kawhi to make a decision,” Sanford said. “He has to take care of himself. He plays in the NBA and he’s very cognizant as all players are of what’s out there on the market for him and for players like him.”
When asked how a theoretical big three of Leonard, Anthony Davis and LeBron James would compare to other big threes throughout the history of the league Dudley told Adrian Wojnarowski on “The Woj Pod” that it might be the best such triumvirate ever: “It compares to the Heat, but a little bit more on steroids. And the reason why I say that is because you arguably have three of the top five best players. I think that Wade and ‘Bron were considered that, I think Bosh was a little bit (outside of that)... AD, a year ago you could’ve argued him as being a top two or three best player in the league. Kawhi Leonard this year, taking his team to winning a championship. LeBron, his accolades speak for themselves.
Trevor Lane: Chris Haynes on @ESPNLosAngeles says it's been quiet on Kawhi front on mtg details, discussions. Thinks it's on purpose, it's a test from Kawhi's camp. A way for teams to show they can be trusted. "I don't have anything definite, I would expect an answer 4th of July by the latest
“From what I’ve heard, and I know you trust me with this just because I have these weird relationships, especially living out here in Los Angeles now. The Kawhi pitch, whether it is from the Lakers or LeBron, is this: LeBron basically is saying, ‘Hey, this is going to be your team in two years.’ I have heard this for years, but LeBron at one point wants to play with his son (Bronny). And depending on when that happens, that’s going to be LeBron’s priority and that may not be with the Lakers,” Russillo said on the Woj Pod. “So, I don’t know when that is going to be. LeBron is saying for the first time in his basketball life that he is willing to defer the style of play. They are going to tell Kawhi, ‘You can take all the last shots. We can run the offense through you.’ “
Adrian Wojnarowski: Jared Dudley was determined to play with LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the Lakers. He recruited them. @Jared Dudley makes his case to Kawhi Leonard on The Woj Pod. Listen here: es.pn/2RPPrQA
Cris Carter: Kawhi update: I’ve just been informed Kawhi has not made a decision. To think the Lakers are ahead of the Clippers or the Raptors would be wrong #KawhiUpdate
Windhorst still believes the Los Angeles Clippers are the favorites to sign Leonard, but says the Lakers are lurking. “We don’t know where Kawhi is going,” Windhorst said on ESPN radio. “I am feeling more like the Lakers are a chance. I wouldn’t have thought that was a chance. I thought it was Clippers for a long time and then I thought maybe he’ll stay in Toronto. “I do believe there is some real traction towards the Lakers. I still think the Clippers are the pick, but I admit I don’t know at this point.”
"I'm in total agreement with you, Brian," said Jackie MacMullan. "Clearly, there's too much smoke for there not to be a little bit of fire here."
Colin Cowherd: “You’re tied to the Lakers/Clippers stuff, so what are your sources telling you today about how the Lakers feel?” Arash Markazi: “They’re not nervous right now. They are not as nervous as you would think they would be with all these names they could potentially sign if they don’t get Kawhi coming off the board. They are 100% all in on Kawhi. It doesn’t mean that they know they’re going to get him, but they didn’t create this cap space for a hail mary. They were cautiously optimistic and don’t view themselves as a dark horse pick. They think they have a real chance.”
Chris Broussard: “I’m being told the Lakers are Kawhi Leonard’s first choice. He and his camp spoke with Magic yesterday and laid out what they want from the Lakers. Nothing crazy, just some additions to the staff and asking ‘Is Kawhi going to be treated like LeBron in the organization?', and all of that. As long as Jeanie doesn’t do anything to screw it up in the meeting I’m told that’s his first choice.”
Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes reported Leonard did not hold any official meetings with possible suitors Sunday and "will look to ramp up the process over the next couple of days." ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski had a similar assessment, reporting Monday on Get Up! that Leonard's announcement "could go even late into the week."
Kendrick Perkins: Just heard that Kawhi is meeting with the Clippers tonight but the Lakers hold the upper hand, unless Doc work his Magic tonight it’s looking very strong that Kawhi will be in Purple and Gold!!!
Turner also provided the first details we’ve gotten to this point regarding what specifically Leonard and his camp wanted to learn from their conversation with Johnson: “There was one interesting question (Leonard) had for Magic: ‘Did you guys try to trade for me when I was in San Antonio?’ And the answer was ‘yes, but because it was Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs, and our history, they were asking for 2,000 draft picks -- well, not 2,000 -- like four draft picks, first-round draft picks, and we just couldn’t do that.’ And that was one of his questions.
And speaking of reducing Leonard’s load and managing his health, according to Turner, Leonard also wanted to know if he was going to be able to have some say over who the Lakers hired to take care of that and his other needs. It seems like the team is amenable to such an arrangement: “LeBron James was able to bring on his own trainer, his own medical people. (Kawhi) wants to know if he can do that as well. LeBron James brought on some people that weren’t with the Lakers, and he wants to know ‘can I bring with a couple of my guys?’ ... And as far as I know, the Lakers would be willing to do that, because you do those things for superstar players.”
Lou is trying to help get Kawhi to leave the Raptors and come back to his home state. "Sun's out, it ain't cold like it is in Toronto. He got his ring ... come holla at us!!" Williams says. "Obviously, he's already a California kid, anyway. The love is already there. He's got an opportunity to do something special, he already has a legacy, already a big time baller in his own right." "So, for him to have an opportunity to do his thing in the state of California should be dope for him."
During an appearance on Spectrum Sportsnet, Broderick Turner of The L.A. Times laid out some of the details of that conversation, including that Leonard’s camp has spoken with Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka, who may or may not be included in the Lakers’ official free agent pitch meeting with Leonard: “The first thing that I’ll start with is that Kawhi and his uncle, Uncle Dennis, they talked to Magic several times. They’ve also talked with Rob Pelinka. They want to meet with Jeanie Buss and Magic. Magic can’t meet with them when Jeanie is in the room, or if Rob Pelinka is also invited... The NBA rules are kind of stipulating that you can bring anyone with that’s a non-employee, but because Magic worked for the Lakers, because they’ve been hit with tampering fines (he can’t be in there with them).”
“There was one interesting question (Leonard) had for Magic: ‘Did you guys try to trade for me when I was in San Antonio?’ And the answer was ‘yes, but because it was Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs, and our history, they were asking for 2,000 draft picks -- well, not 2,000 -- like four draft picks, first-round draft picks, and we just couldn’t do that.’ And that was one of his questions. “The uncle’s questions were ‘what’s really going on in the organization between you, Jeanie, Rob Pelinka, everyone? Is it as dysfunctional as we’re reading and hearing?’ And the response was ‘we had some issues, but we’re past that. I’m past that. We’re still a family, such as you fight with your brothers and sisters sometimes, well, I had somewhat of a disagreement with my sister. And Rob Pelinka, yes, I said he was a back-stabber, but that happened then. Now I want the Lakers to be a championship team. Having Kawhi here would do that.
With a shot at Kawhi Leonard, their entire plan for this summer hinges on his decision. They can’t move until he does. Magic Johnson spoke with Leonard and his uncle, Dennis Roberston, on Sunday, Johnson told The Times. According to people familiar with the discussion, they had a positive conversation about the direction of the Lakers.
The NBA won’t allow Johnson, formerly the team’s president of basketball operations until resigning April 9, to function as a Lakers representative, but his perspective matters to Leonard. Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka did reach out to Leonard’s camp in an official capacity after the window opened for teams to communicate with players’ representatives at 3 p.m. PDT Saturday.
January 26, 2021 | 3:30 pm EST Update
Feb. 6: most players who signed free-agent contracts in the offseason can begin to be traded. A team that is expected to be prominent in the trade market picture, rival teams expect: The New Orleans Pelicans. The franchise is off to an uneven 5-10 start to the season. New Orleans has been receiving calls about the availability of Lonzo Ball and JJ Redick and has shown an openness to discussing trades around both with interested teams, sources tell The Athletic. A move would create a clearer pathway for young guards Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Kira Lewis in the Pelicans’ rotation.
New York and the Clippers are among interested teams in Pistons guard Derrick Rose, sources said. Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau has a long history with Rose, coaching the former league MVP in Chicago and Minnesota.
When the Pelicans hired Stan Van Gundy as the new head coach, Ingram and Williamson expressed strong desires to have the veteran coach come in and set the tone for accountability. It stings through defeat sometimes, but the Pelicans have so far been pleased with Van Gundy’s job early this season, sources said.
The two women have refereed countless games over the years. But this one — on a Monday night in late January — was different. For the first time in the NBA, when one woman officiating the game looked over at her partner on the court, she would see another woman. “Last night was not all business for us at all,” Schroeder told The Athletic on Tuesday morning. “That was a special night, a special game, and we appreciate that and are grateful for the moments we had throughout the entire day.”
Before the game started, the coaches chimed in on the significance as well. “I guess we all have a personal way to look at it,” Orlando’s Steve Clifford said. “For me, I have four nieces, and I have a goddaughter who I’m super close with. They’ll be watching … I think also just being around NBA officiating (I know) how difficult it is to break into the league, to be picked to be in the league. There’s obviously a huge number of people who want to be officials in our league. So there’s a lot of things that have to be done in order for anyone to be able to officiate at this level. I think it’s great for the league, but I just think it’s great for the country.”
January 26, 2021 | 2:56 pm EST Update
NBA owners have agreed on a framework allowing investment funds to own parts of franchises, according to two people with knowledge of the decision. The NBA’s Board of Governors has agreed that private equity and other types of institutional investors may own up to 20% equity in a single franchise, and funds may own stakes in a maximum of five teams.
No franchise can have more than 30% of its equity held by investment funds, no matter how many funds own a stake in the team, according to the people familiar with the owners’ decision. They asked not to be identified because they aren’t authorized to speak on behalf of the league. The NBA declined to comment through a spokesman. Sportico first reported owners were having discussions last week.