The Clippers shocked the NBA world when they pulled off the biggest move of the offseason by not only signing Kawhi Leonard in free agency, but also trading for Paul George.
Jerry West, who serves in a front-office advisory role for Los Angeles, explained his perspective of how the Clippers landed two of the league’s most-talented stars. While West admitted he had a small role in convincing Leonard to come to Los Angeles, he revealed that Leonard recruited George.
“I’ve never seen anything like it where players can recruit other players and so I guess that’s the modern day NBA,” West said on “The Dan Patrick Show.” “It’s just so different. Players are free to move around, agents and players contribute where they go. … It really does wonders for a franchise. It’s just hard to describe the excitement within the Clipper organization.”
West went on to explain the main reason the Clippers landed both players was because they talked beforehand, adding: “The players help today” when it comes to trades and free agency signings.
“They have complete admiration for each other’s game,” West said of Leonard and George. “I try to be completely fair and honest to all the players in this league, but I honestly think they’re the best two-way players in basketball and to get them on one night is pretty remarkable. … But those players talked and I’m not so sure that maybe if Kawhi hadn’t had some influence on Paul that we would’ve been able to make a deal with Oklahoma City. Obviously, we paid a big price.”
After leading the Raptors to their first title in franchise history, Leonard signed with the Clippers on a 3-year, $103 million deal with a player option in 2021-22.
On the same night as Leonard’s signing, the Thunder and Los Angeles agreed to a blockbuster deal that sent George to the Clippers for guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, forward Danilo Gallinari and the Clippers’ first-round draft picks in 2022, ’24 and ’26, along with two first-round choices via Miami (2021 and ’23), and OKC obtained the right to swap first-round picks in 2023 and ’25.