Clippers’ Head Coach Doc Rivers Jokingly Requested For The Clippers To Be Moved To Seattle If Kawhi Leonard Signed w/ Lakers
The Los Angeles Clippers pulled off one of the franchise’s best moves this off season by signing 2-time NBA Finals MVP, Kawhi Leonard and 6-time NBA All-Star, Paul George. Clippers head coach Doc Rivers reflects on how things came together. In his recent interview with The Los Angeles Times, River details the day of the blockbuster trade that completed took everyone for a loop. He says,
“The day of the trade at 12 noon the deal was off. I was at home in Malibu and Lawrence [Frank] called me and told me, ‘It looks like he’s either going to Toronto or the Lakers.’ The Lakers part just threw me over. I told him that can’t happen.”
As the Clippers decided to move on from it at 6 p.m., they accepted that there was nothing they could do until River phone rang. Rivers adds,
“So I’m pulling into the parking lot and the phone rings and it’s Lawrence and he said, ‘Where are you? I said, ‘I’m walking into Nobu.’ He said, ‘They have terrible reception there! Get out of there! Go somewhere with better reception. The deal is back on!’ So I go to the side of the road on PCH and we’re going back and forth and we got the deal done.”
Rivers continued, touching on how he in a joking matter asked Clippers owner, Steve Ballmer to move the team to Seattle if Leonard signed with their rival, Los Angeles Lakers.
“I actually told Steve jokingly that if that happens, we’re moving the team to Seattle. It was a joke, but I was actually serious about it. I really believed that.”
As previously reported, in order for the agreement to be completed to bring Kawhi to the Clippers, the NBA star demanded the team needs to make some much needed changes for a chance to compete in the tough western conference. Rivers said during their initial meeting with Kawhi, they showed Leonard a list of players they were considering targeting to team up with him. Rivers says Kawhi was very upfront on what he need the team to do,
“He said, ‘Mr. Ballmer, I love the things you do and what you stand for, but your team is not good enough and if you don’t change your team, I’m not coming.'”
As soon as he saw George’s name on the list he was sold on the idea.
”After Leonard pushed George to find a way to get to the Clippers, Paul George approached the team and requested a trade, league sources tell ESPN. OKC was left with no choice and made the best out of a difficult situation, per sources.”
For trading George To LA, The Oklahoma City Thunder receives Clippers 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, according to ESPN