Kawhi Leonard’s top five moments of the 2019-20 season

LA Clippers Kawhi Leonard (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
LA Clippers Kawhi Leonard (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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2. Signing with the Clippers – July 9, 2019

News broke on July 5 that Leonard, coming off an NBA Championship and Finals MVP award with the Toronto Raptors, would sign in Los Angeles. Not with the Lakers, as many speculated might happen, but with their in-town rivals the Clippers. The move sent shockwaves through the NBA, especially after the league learned that joining Kawhi in Los Angeles would be fellow superstar Paul George, who the Clippers orchestrated a mega-trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder to acquire.

The price was steep, but worth it. The pair of moves instantly made the Clippers a title contender and solidified Los Angeles as the unofficial current basketball capitol of the world. NBA players have made LA their off-season homes more often in recent history, and the Lakers have been lightly criticized for having an unfair advantage in luring free agents to town (ok, sometimes more than light criticism.) This brought the Clippers not only into title-contention with the Lakers, but into the discussion of franchises to be taken seriously.

Leonard also took his future into his own own (famously large) hands by signing a three-year, $103 million contract with an opt-out in 2021 rather than the presumed four-year max. The move gives Leonard flexibility in controlling his own destiny, and placed a bit of urgency on the Clippers championship window.

Putting aside rumors of potentially-shady-talks with other teams, and anonymous voices apparently saying they felt lead-on by Leonard, the Clippers landed themselves a top tier player and face of a franchise at a time that the had been looking to solidify and create their own new identity as a franchise going forward.

Leonard gave them that face. Paul George gave them another. And the Clippers are now one of the marquee franchises for the near-future of the NBA, and hopefully beyond.