The LA Clippers are making a blockbuster trade for Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George, clearing the path for free agent Kawhi Leonard to sign with the Clippers on a four-year, $142 million contract, league sources told ESPN.
In an 11th-hour move to keep Leonard from partnering with LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the Los Angeles Lakers, the Clippers are trading four future unprotected first-round picks, a protected first-round pick and two pick swaps to the Thunder to get George, league sources told ESPN.
The Clippers are sending Oklahoma City their 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, league sources said.
The Clippers also are sending point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari to the Thunder in the deal, league sources told ESPN.
George and Leonard wanted to play together, and George and his agent, Aaron Mintz, approached Thunder general manager Sam Presti in recent days and requested a trade, league sources said. Leonard wanted to walk into a championship contender, and he believed George was the co-star he wanted by his side.
George could miss the first few weeks of the season as he recovers from shoulder surgery, league sources told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne.
With Friday night’s additions, Staples Center appears set to be the most starry arena in the NBA: Leonard and George vs. James and Davis.
Leonard had held meetings with three teams he planned to sit down with in free agency, according to sources. He met with the Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers and Toronto Raptors over the past week, with Toronto receiving the final meeting, league sources said.