Paul George and Kawhi Leonard

Clippers Out of Free Passes

Most of us East Coasters were in bed by the time the Los Angeles Clippers signed Kawhi Leonard and traded for Paul George.

It didn’t come cheap and I’m not talking about Leonard’s 4 year-$141 million dollar deal.

The Clippers traded 5 first round picks, Gilgeous-Alexander, and Danilo Gallinari for Paul George. The first round picks go as follows:

Unprotected 2022, 2024 and 2026 picks, their unprotected 2021 and protected 2023 first-round picks via Miami, and the rights to swap picks with the Clippers in 2023 and 2025.

That is a “banner or bust” deal. That isn’t a “get rid of Gallinari’s bad contract” deal.

If you’re a Clipper fan, you should be happy.

You’ve been the second team in a city that embraces the Los Angeles Lakers above all sports including the two NFL teams out there. Will this do it? Time will tell. It’s no different than the discussion happening in New York over the Knicks and Nets. Does Brooklyn winning with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving knock Dolan and the Knicks off the perch?

For the first time in their history, the Buffalo Braves-San Diego Clippers-Los Angeles Clippers have championship expectations. That’s a heavy burden. Unlike the Lakers, they have a coach who has won a ring as a head coach. There isn’t anyone happier than Rivers this morning. He went from a plucky team that fought the Golden State Warriors to a team who is now the favorites in Vegas.

What shouldn’t be forgotten in all this is the role the commissioner played. If Adam Silver doesn’t lead the charge to oust, former Clippers’ governor, Donald Sterling, we aren’t having this conversation. What you saw last night was an NBA Governor willing to do anything to bring a title to a franchise that was a joke.

Steve Ballmer views the Lakers as a business partner (NBA) and a competitor (market share). It’s something a city like Washington DC doesn’t have when the same person owns the NBA and NHL team in town. He isn’t going to compete himself so it’s the Washington Wizards who suffer.

The Clippers are no longer suffering. They are no longer the punchline. They are the favorites and when you’re the favorite, you have no free passes. Just ask LeBron James and the Lakers.

 

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