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Los Angeles Clippers sign Kawhi Leonard and complete trade for Paul George

Wednesday 10 July 2019 19:23, UK

Kawhi Leonard celebrates during the Toronto Raptors' victory parade
Image: Kawhi Leonard celebrates during the Toronto Raptors' victory parade

The Los Angeles Clippers signed free agent forward Kawhi Leonard to a three-year, $103m maximum contract and officially completed a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder for Paul George.

President of basketball operations Lawrence Frank announced the moves on Tuesday but did not disclose terms of the deal, which have been reported by multiple outlets.

"This is a historic moment for our organization and our fans," said Clippers president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank.

"We are grateful and honoured that Kawhi Leonard has decided to come home and join the Los Angeles Clippers. Kawhi is a peerless two-way player, a relentless worker and a natural fit for the serious, professional culture our group has established.

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"He wins everywhere he goes, and he always has, from King High School to San Diego State to the NBA. Having him on our side is a tremendous privilege and a massive responsibility, one we will take very seriously. His expectation, and ours, is to contend for championships."

Leonard's deal is actually for two years guaranteed with a third-year player option, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. That would allow Leonard, a 28-year-old Southern California native, to opt out and become a free agent again in 2021.

Paul George, who the Clippers traded for to pair with Leonard, also has two years guaranteed and a player option remaining on his deal.

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George, who the Clippers traded for to pair with Leonard, also has two years guaranteed and a player option remaining on his deal.

"Paul George is one of the greatest two-way players in our game," said Frank.

"He is both an elite scorer and a relentless defender whose versatility elevates any team. When you have the opportunity to acquire a contributor of his calibre, you do what it takes to bring him home. Paul is a native of the Los Angeles area and an ideal fit for the Clippers, thanks to his selflessness and drive.

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"Following the lead of Steve Ballmer, we have plotted an aggressive course to build a championship contender, and acquiring Paul is a critical step."

Leonard, who led the Toronto Raptors to their first NBA championship after he was acquired in a trade from the San Antonio Spurs last July, reportedly selected the Clippers over the Raptors and Los Angeles Lakers.

According to TSN of Canada, Leonard made "unreasonable" demands of the Raptors during contract talks.

Leonard, averaged 26.6 points and 7.3 rebounds over 60 regular-season games with the Raptors in 2018-19. He then improved on that over 24 playoff games averaging 30.5 points with 9.1 rebounds.

Kawhi Leonard attacks the rim in the Raptors' Game 5 win over the 76ers 5:51
Relive Kawhi Leonard's superb 2019 postseason performances that led the Toronto Raptors to the NBA Finals

In the NBA Finals, Leonard scored 28.5 points per game with 9.8 rebounds as Toronto defeated the Golden State Warriors in six games.

The three-time All-Star, who was drafted 15th overall by the Indiana Pacers in 2011, has averaged 17.7 points and 6.3 rebounds over 467 games (440 starts) with the San Antonio Spurs and the Raptors.

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Along with Leonard and George, the 2021 free-agent class could potentially include Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bradley Beal, Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond, Blake Griffin, and LeBron James, who has a player option for 2021 on the four-year deal he signed with the Lakers last offseason.

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