2023-04-24 · 2 min read · NBA/Basketball
Kawhi Leonard,  Los Angeles Clippers Small forward, Shooting guard

Jae C. Hong/AP | Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times

Let’s take a quick moment to go back in time nearly four years ago, when the Los Angeles Clippers pulled off one of the biggest coups in NBA history, bringing in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George during the 2019 offseason.
They did have to pay a steep price to Oklahoma City in order to bring in George, which in turn convinced Leonard to join, but at the time it was viewed as more than necessary, as they had what many thought would be the NBA’s new dynasty.
Fast forward to the present, the Clippers are on the brink of yet another disappointing playoff loss, this time with both stars sitting in street clothes watching. And the future of the franchise is in serious flux.
Just for fun, here’s a total list of everything they traded to OKC that summer. Danilo Gallinai, 5 first-round picks, and Shai Gilgeous Alexander, who has become a top-ten player. All they’ve gotten out of it so far is one Western Conference Finals trip. Yikes.
Making matters worse, Kawhi Leonard may never play basketball again after yet another knee injury forced him out of the playoffs. To be fair, Kawhi has been outstanding all season. He’s averaged 26.7 ppg, 6.7 rebounds and 3.9 assists in 36 games since January 1st, and through the first two games of their first-round series against the Suns, he looked like the best player in the league on both ends.
But the whole point of his much-maligned load management was supposed to be so that he could withstand the gruelling physical toll of the postseason. He made it just two games before being forced out, begging the question: will his knees allow him to ever be able to reach his 2019 Raptors heights again?
Then there’s Paul George, who had a miserable season due to various injuries himself. At 32 years old, George has lost multiple steps defensively and hasn’t been able to play over 60 games once in his Clippers career.
In fact, in four seasons, the prized duo has played just 118 games together. That simply isn’t good enough.
Having said all this, it’s easy to retroactively pick apart team decisions. In the moment, any other NBA team would have made the same all-in bet on Leonard and George in a heartbeat.
But it just simply hasn’t worked out for LA’s little brother franchise.
Making matters even worse, the Clippers are set to move into a brand spanking new multi-billion dollar arena for the 2024-2025 season. This could force their hand to run it back with the Leonard-George duo just to keep fans in their seats if nothing else.
But with Leonard's health potentially forcing him into early retirement, and little wiggle room to move cap-space-wise, the smart move might be to move off of their superstar tandem while they still can.
Whatever decision they make, it’ll probably be the wrong one. It’s not their fault. When you're cursed, you're cursed.
Sports Tree Profile

By: Eddie Huband


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