If there’s anything to be learned about this wacky NBA offseason it’s this: Players control the narrative, but they rely on smart organizations to help them tell the story.
Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are L.A. Clippers. And Las Vegas has installed them as 3-1 favorites. Yes, the Clippers, formally of San Diego and the little brother in a crowded L.A. sports scene are the odds on favorite to win the NBA Championship.
Saying that this deal is a stunner isn’t enough. Leonard’s interest in returning to his Southern California roots was no secret. Neither was his interest in playing for the Clippers as opposed to the Lakers. But what nobody knew was that Paul George could be had for a price. Five number one picks and two players later, Leonard had his running mate.
It’s no coincidence that Paul George resigned with Oklahoma City rather than join LeBron in L.A. two years ago. The Nets didn’t get Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant instead of the Knicks by accident. The two “younger brother” franchises built better landing spaces for their big ticket items. They had better rosters, coaching staffs, and most importantly, better front offices with plans of actions in place.
Instead, the Lakers have gone on to plan B with Danny Green, DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo. Not bad since they had nothing on the roster, but their money could’ve been better spent on role players like Tobias Harris, Malcolm Brogdon, and Khris Middleton had they not put all their chips in the pot for Leonard. The Lakers bet big on themselves, but lost.
The Knicks spent $92 million on their plan B for guards Elfrid Payton and Wayne Ellington and forwards Reggie Bullock, Julius Randle, Bobby Portis and Taj Gibson. And I’m sure Knicks fans are just thrilled. I guess true insight of the NBA landscape beats any historical allure, perceived or otherwise.
The entire NBA has changed in a matter of a week. The champion Toronto Raptors will have to rebuild. The runner-up Warriors are trying to reload. The Celtics have retooled. The Thunder may send Russell Westbrook packing. The Heat, Jazz, Pelicans and Sixers are ready to make their charge. The Nets will have to wait to make theirs. But the story of the offseason was the Clippers.
Move over big brother, the younger brother is taking center stage.