After days of anticipation and constantly refreshing the Twitter feed, the Woj Bomb of the summer finally arrived at nearly 2AM EST, and it did not disappoint. Prized free agent star Kawhi Leonard has decided to join Los Angeles…but not the Lakers, but the Clippers. How does this affect the Boston Celtics and the legaue at large?
The biggest surprise out of all is he won’t be the lone star. In order to land Kawhi, the Clippers needed to acquire his co-star of choice: Paul George. After the Anthony Davis trade earlier this summer, it didn’t seem likely that another trade of that magnitude would happen. Woj dropped the details on what turns out to be a league record trading of FOUR unprotected First Round Picks (even more than what the Boston Celtics acquired in 2013 in the Paul Pierce-Kevin Garnett trade) with one protected selection, and two pick swaps in addition to rising talent Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and sharpshooting forward Danilo Gallinari.
All in all, that’s a superb haul for the Thunder that capitalized on its leverage, as the Clippers either coughed up the necessary assets to acquire George or watched him join up with the Lakers. OKC didn’t have much of a choice either, but as a team that might be forced to jettison star guard Russell Westbrook, they’ve got a great start towards a rebuild.
I would imagine the Thunder are not thrilled about the level of tampering occurring on the player level between Leonard and George, but it’s hardly the first example of it this summer (LeBron/Klutch Sports with Anthony Davis, Al Horford and the 76ers, Kyrie/KD to Brooklyn, Kemba to Boston, etc.).
The big question is now that this news is out, where does this leave the rest of the league? OKC now has a Westbrook dilemma to contemplate. The Wizards, still running with interim GM Tommy Sheppard, have been rumored to be shopping Bradley Beal, are still handcuffed with John Wall as he recovers from a ruptured Achilles. What about Toronto, fresh off the franchise’s first championship?
The wheels keeps rolling on for the NBA drama machine. Keep in mind that Free Agency signings and trades can’t become official until *checks watch* today, so expect a lot of cap maneuvering by certain teams to make deals happen. The order of operations is crucial for a lot of the moves the Celtics make, especially the sign-and-trade of Terry Rozier to Charlotte for Kemba Walker. While bringing back Daniel Theis and Brad Wanamaker is solid, the Celtics also acquired Euro big Vince Poirier and rebounding specialist Enes Kanter on cheap money.
It’s also worth noting that all has been quiet on the Marcus Morris front, with Boston still possessing his Bird Rights (thanks to the Rozier/Walker sign-and-trade). Keeping a close eye on OKC for the next few days would be wise, as the Celtics were rumored to be interested in Aussie big Steven Adams, who would help fill the void left by Al Horford. There also have been murmurs that Kemba’s decision to come to Boston was also tied to Adams.
The dynamic in the NBA is changing more and more towards a league of star talents pairing up and building strong depth around them. At the bare minimum, Boston has one in Kemba Walker and two more rising talents in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.
If Gordon Hayward can regain the level of play he had in Utah, the Celtics will have a great deal of talent to work with; now, once again, it’s just a matter of making all of the pieces fit.