On what was perhaps the craziest night in recent memory, Kawhi Leonard shocked the sports world by signing with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Leonard spoke with the Los Angeles Lakers in the form of general manager Rob Pelinka and owner Jeanie Buss. And in the process of spurning the Lakers — who played a week-long waiting game for the two-time NBA Finals MVP — Leonard also brought with him Paul George.
Leonard and George will now create a superstar tandem in the same building as James and Anthony Davis with both teams being serious championship contenders for the first time.
Johnson, who spoke with Leonard over the phone in an attempt to recruit him to the purple and gold, congratulated the Clippers for getting him. Johnson also took solace in the fact that the team still has James and Davis, according to Brad Turner of Los Angeles Times:
“Everybody tried. That’s all you can do,” Johnson said. “I’m a Laker, man. I was hoping all day. But for the league, it turned out great. And for this town, it’s the king of basketball. You got LeBron and AD with the Lakers and Paul George and Kawhi with the Clippers.
“You got to say to Jerry West, Doc Rivers and [Steve] Ballmer, congratulations,” he said. “For the Lakers, there’s disappointment but joy too, because we pivoted and got some great players in free agency and we still have LeBron and AD. In a perfect world, you’d love to have Kawhi. But, hey, the Lakers ain’t going anywhere.”
If the Lakers didn’t have James and Davis, then Leonard choosing the Clippers could have been a devastating development. However, the Lakers do have those players, meaning they won’t be left in the dust without a superstar duo to fall back on.
In addition, Pelinka seems to have recovered well from losing the Leonard sweepstakes, filling out the roster with a solid blend of veterans, shooters, and big men in a way that could put the team in serious contention.
After the Leonard news broke, the Lakers immediately came to terms with Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, JaVale McGee, and Quinn Cook. They then proceeded to add DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo, and Avery Bradley to add to their previous signings of Troy Daniels and Jared Dudley.
The battle between the Lakers and Clippers will be great to watch for the next couple years and Johnson, in particular, seems excited for what’s to come for Los Angeles basketball.