In a wild summer of big moves — Anthony Davis to the Lakers, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant to the Nets, and the list goes on and on and on — it was Paul George being traded to the Clippers that left the NBA stunned. A few people may have heard whispers that George and Russell Westbrook had a wandering eye, but nobody was talking about it seriously.
Nobody saw the Clippers swinging the trade to get George — which Kawhi Leonard told them they needed to do to get him, too — coming.
It was such a wild trade that was off and on several times over the course of the day it went down, something Clippers’ coach Doc Rivers explained on the Rich Eisen Show. Listen to the whole clip (above), but here is the money part:
“We knew we were close. I can tell you on the day that it all went down, at 10 that morning, we thought the deal was over, that it wasn’t going to happen. Because Oklahoma and us, we just couldn’t get a deal done. At two, we thought it was back on. At five, Lawrence [Frank, Clippers president] said ‘Hey, it’s over. We can all just go to dinner.’
“And so I was on my way to dinner, I was literally walking into Nobu in Malibu and I get a text, ‘Grab your phone, it’s back on.’ Within an hour, the deal was done.”
Rivers also confirms that Leonard’s people told the Clippers they needed “to add to the roster” without giving up too much. Whether they gave up too much long term is up for debate (and how well the Clippers play the next couple of seasons, if they can make the Finals or win a title, will color that discussion). They gave up a good young player in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander plus a boatload of draft picks.
They had to if they wanted to make the bold play of a contender.
And those kinds of moves tend to be chaotic.