Lakers News: Kobe Bryant Thinks Kawhi Leonard, Paul George Wanted ‘Challenge’ Of ‘Trying To Turn The Clippers Around’
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

While the Los Angeles Lakers had arguably one of the best 2019 NBA offseasons, one team vying for that throne are their Staples Center neighbors: the Los Angeles Clippers.

Although the Clippers outperformed, they took a core that won 48 games en route to a first round playoff exit and added Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. They did this all while getting rid of very few core pieces.

It was reported during free agency that Leonard’s top choice was the Clippers, but only if they could get him another All-Star player. If not, the fear was Leonard would head to the Lakers to form a trio with LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

The Clippers took a chance by trading upwards of seven first round draft picks — as well as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari — to the Oklahoma City Thunder for George.

While at the FIBA World Cup, Kobe Bryant spoke about the Leonard and George relocation and what they may have in mind by choosing the Clippers over the Lakers, via ESPN:

“Well, I think he wanted the challenge of trying to turn the Clippers around and I think he saw a great opportunity if Paul George wanted to participate in that challenge with him. Both kids are from L.A., the Lakers were their favorite team, but then you grow up and things change. So I think they both saw it as an opportunity, as a challenge to try and take a Clippers organization that says all the right things and has been doing all the right things in terms of turning the team in the right direction, and they saw it as a great chance to jump in and be a part of it.”

From an organizational standpoint, the Clippers have been more stable than the Lakers for numerous seasons now. As a result, if Leonard and George’s goal was stability, then they made the right choice in the Clippers.

However, both players were public about their preferred destination being the Lakers, which means it changed in just one season.

Of course, the Lakers will be just fine with their James-Davis star duo. And they’ll finally have a legitimate rival sharing the Staples Center with them.

The Lakers-Clippers rivalry is one that has not had much intrigue until now and may finally end up in a playoff matchup. It’ll be known if Leonard and George made the right call then.