In the recent history of the LA Clippers, there has been a remarkable culture of winning basketball. While the Clippers have one of the lowest all-time winning percentages in the NBA, they own the third-most wins of the last decade, with only the Warriors and Raptors having more.
LA built this winning culture through strong team building via the draft, free agency, as well as internally. Of course, one of the most rousing successes they have had in recent years was signing Kawhi Leonard and trading for Paul George.
Doing so ushered in a new era where a championship was the expectation at the beginning of each new season. But as early as when the trade was initially announced, many criticized the Clippers' trade for George, claiming they gave up far too much for him.
Many have claimed that the Clippers gave up too much for Paul George
Those talks have only grown louder with the rapid development of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, as he has risen to the level of true All-NBA talent. The seven picks LA sent to Oklahoma City only strengthen these arguments.
But at the end of the day, it will never be possible for the Clippers to truly look back on their trade for George with regret. The main reason for this lies in the fact that Kawhi Leonard was never going to sign with the Clippers unless his co-star and friend was there as well.
Yes, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has turned into a franchise star and could potentially be the best player on a championship team one day. But in 2019, the Clippers would have been downright foolish to choose SGA's up-and-coming talent over the established talent of George and Leonard, the latter of which had just come off a dominant playoff run where he looked like the best player on the planet.
As Clippers fan Jamal Cristopher points out, the Thunder are a playoff level team in 2023, but they have still yet to win a playoff series since the Paul George trade took place. That alone makes it very hard to argue that the Clippers should regret their dealings, considering LA has achieved a conference finals appearance in the Leonard-George era, and is still in contention for a title.
Draft picks are also typically much more valuable in theory than in practice. The truth is that given the opportunity, any NBA team would have done exactly what the Clippers did in the 2019 offseason.