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Kahwi Leonard to LA!!!

The wait for the best free-agent left on the market is over. He’s going to LA (4-year, 142 million USD max deal), albeit not to the franchise everyone expected him to go in the last couple of days. Kahwi has decided to escape LeBron’s shadow and start a dynasty of his own with the Clippers. Clippers front office had one more market earthquake to make before the end of the day though. They acquired Oklahoma star Paul George for a very decent price.

Thus Clippers formed easily the best perimeter defensive duo in the NBA, without diminishing the offensive power of both star players. Kawhi and Paul are going to be an outstanding duo, as no one of them is a ball-hog, and both have shown they are able to sacrifice their touches for the team. Paulie Gold spent the last two years learning to play off the ball with Russell Westbrook. Any NBA defense will have nightmares the night before the game with Clippers, figuring how to stop both at the same time. Both players are extremely dangerous from the 3-point line and can penetrate and create their own shots in the paint or facilitate their team-mates. And on the other end of the floor it would probably be even be worse. The combination of Leonard, George and Patrick Beverley is going to be suffocating defensively.

The cherry on the pie is the very good price which Clippers paid for George. It’s true they sent g a record-setting collection of draft choices in the deal. The Thunder will receive four unprotected first-round picks, one protected first-round pick and two pick swaps in addition to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari. Reportedly Paul George has put Thunder in this situation by requesting a trade very shortly after Kahwi’s decision had been made known. It seems his relationship with Westbrook has endured some negative vibes after the second-time running early play-off exit. George's exit from Oklahoma City comes one year after he signed a four-year, 137 million USD deal with Thunder. George is largely considered a top 3 two-way player in the NBA and was an MVP candidate this season. He averaged 28.0 points, 8.2 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game.

And the best part for the Clippers nation is that being able to get George at the expense of future draft picks mainly, they have still retained so much of the core of their roster, including Patrick Beverley, Montrezl Harrell, Lou Williams and Landry Shamet. This is a hard blow for the Lakers, even allowing for their star signing of Anthony Davis. Clippers have way more depth in their roster than Lakers now, even if Bron pull out another remarkable season for his age. The Lakers have Kyle Kuzma and now Danny Green (signed for 2 years, 30 million USD yesterday) outside of LeBron and AD, and things get pretty bleak from there. The Lakers are going to be in a tricky spot as they try to fill out the roster with most starting-level free agents at this stage of the market.

So where are Clippers now in the league’s hierarchy? The Warriors will have to wait for Klay Thompson to return from his torn ACL. They won’t tank and will have no troubles reaching the play-offs, bar any injury to Curry or Draymond. Yet, you got the point, GSW will be very long in the odds to win the league this year. The Nets will also have to wait over a year for Kevin Durant’s Achilles injury to heal. Kyrie Irving and the young core of the team will probably be more than enough to get a play-off spot though, and that’s it. Boston will be still dangerous with Kemba Walker instead of Kyrie, and more touches and shots to their two hopes for the future, Tatum and Brown. Bucks regained their core players and will be around the top of the standings for the regular season once more. What happens in the play-offs is another thing. The same goes for Sixers too.

The real blood bath through the regular season will be in the West though. We haven’t seen so evenly distributed star power across the Conference for a while now. Both teams from LA will be hungry for wins and glory of course, but Rockets and Nuggets remained still this summer and will also be dangerous (even if the rumours about Chris Paul – James Harden bad vibes are true).

All in all, it’s fair to say that Clippers emerge as one of the main title favourites this season. The gap between them and the field will be much closer than it was during the era of the Durant-Curry Warriors. One thing is for sure, we are going toward one of the most entertaining NBA seasons in years. The Clippers are going to be a force to be reckoned with, for the next years to come. The days of the Clippers being the little brother in Los Angeles came to an end now, with the arrival of Leonard and George. All this became possible only because of their smart management (Nets also deserve credit here). The Nets, Clippers, Lakers and Knicks all entered this summer with cap space and big dreams. Nets and Clippers both landed two legitimate super stars this summer, with both franchises pulling off some big shocks. Knicks did nothing and seem destined to spend another 2-3-year span in the wilderness, just as usual. That’s another topic though, kudos to the Clippers once again!

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