Kawhi Leonard decision drops bomb on OKC Thunder with Paul George joining him via trade

Paul George of OKC Thunder handles the ball against Kawhi Leonard (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images)
Paul George of OKC Thunder handles the ball against Kawhi Leonard (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Kawhi Leonard decision ends up dropping a bomb on OKC Thunder as Paul George will be traded to give Leonard a second superstar to play with.

For seven days Kawhi Leonard had the NBA, Toronto Raptors, LA Lakers, LA Clippers and most of the league in a frenzy awaiting his decision. Social media and fake news had Leonard leaning to join the Lakers superteam or returning to the Raptors. Other than an active interest there was no reason to think his decision would affect the OKC Thunder. Yet, this decision has annihilated the Thunder since Paul George will be traded to the Clippers based on his request to be traded and join the Klaw.

With so many of the top free agents doing sign and trades it was a common belief if Leonard did leave Toronto he would likely follow suit given his close relationship with Masai Urjiri. So, the news (or should I say BOMB) that he not only would exit Toronto but not via a sign and trade is stunning.

Sure he brought them a title but the Raptors had built a team around Kawhi which could’ve contended for years. By exiting straight up and not via a sign and trade Leonard leaves a ton of money on the table since he won’t be eligible for the 10-year veteran max falling two years short.

Paul George to join him:

For everyone who was wondering why Kawhi was taking so long to announce his decision the answer probably lies in the Paul George portion of the equation. It likely took days for General Manager, Sam Presti to agree to trade Paul George and many more days to iron out the semantics of that deal.

The Deal:

While Thunder Nation recovers from this news at least we can find solace in the fact what Toronto likely expected to get if Leonard did select the Clippers won’t go their direction but instead comes to OKC for George.

Leonard will sign a 4-year, $142 million max deal. The Paul George portion of the deal will provide a massive return (specifically in draft picks) although the Thunder will also add Canadian standout Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and big man Danilo Gallinari.

As for the draft picks Adrian Wojnarowski reports four unprotected first-round draft picks, one protected first-round draft pick as well as two pick swaps. That is an insane haul for Paul George regardless of how much you value his talent.

Shortly after Woj’s tweet Marc Stein provided additional clarity on the picks.

From a personal standpoint, I’m reeling a bit from the news since it affects my two favorite teams.  I never expected Leonard to join the Lakers. Given his distaste for media circuses and desire to have a “FULL” team surrounding him that move didn’t make sense.

The Clippers were an option always, but I always envisioned it would be married to a sign and trade with the Raptors. Convincing Paul George to partner with him also makes sense because Leonard wants at least one other star to play with. And with Patrick Beverley re-signing as well as George coming on board the Clippers will have perhaps the top defense next season.

There were reports earlier this week that Leonard spoke to Kevin Durant about teaming up but Durant preferred the Knicks while Leonard preferred the Clippers. What the Paul George portion of Kawhi’s decision indicates is he wanted to play with another top-five talent (which we’ll assume he views Paul George as) not named LeBron.

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In the coming days, the writing team at Thunderous Intentions will have much more on this trade in terms of the impact to the future of the Thunder and the new players arriving– at the moment we’re still in shock.