The Los Angeles Clippers sent shockwaves through the NBA with a pair of monumental moves late Friday night, reportedly securing a free-agent deal with Kawhi Leonard and swinging a blockbuster trade to acquire Paul George from the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Leonard, whose highly anticipated free-agent decision came down to the Clippers, Lakers, and Toronto Raptors, will sign a four-year, $142-million maximum contract with L.A., ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reports, citing sources.
In exchange for George, the Clippers are sending the Thunder a massive haul that includes Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, four unprotected first-round selections, an additional protected first-rounder, and two pick swaps, sources told Wojnarowski.
Seemingly coming out of nowhere as the basketball world anxiously awaited Leonard's decision, the superstar additions immediately vault the Clippers from an up-and-coming team to a legitimate title contender.
Despite their well-documented year-long pursuit of Leonard, many considered the Clippers to be a step behind both the Lakers and Raptors in the race to sign the reigning Finals MVP; the potential appeal of joining LeBron James and Anthony Davis with the Lakers was obvious, while returning to the defending champions seemed like a realistic option given the trust built over his one season in Toronto.
But in an appearance on ESPN, Wojnarowski explained that the Clippers had been Leonard's focus all along and landing a second star in George sealed the deal.
George, who surprised many with his decision to pass up the Lakers and sign a long-term deal to remain with the Thunder only a year ago, wasn't even on the radar as a potential trade chip heading into the offseason. But he and Leonard reportedly met in L.A. earlier this week and the six-time All-Star requested a trade within the last few days, according to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne.
Both players join the Clippers after the most productive seasons of their respective careers. Leonard, 28, averaged 26.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 3.3 assists across 60 regular-season games before taking his game to another level in the playoffs, leading Toronto to its first-ever NBA championship and earning his second Finals MVP award in the process.
George, 29, earned MVP consideration for his efforts in OKC, where he averaged 28 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 4.1 assists.