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Kawhi Leonard reportedly attempted to recruit Kevin Durant to join him with the Los Angeles Clippers in free agency, and only after Durant opted to sign with the Brooklyn Nets did the Clippers shift focus to the blockbuster trade to acquire Paul George from the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Ramona Shelburne of ESPN reported the update Saturday and noted KD was “flattered and more than a little stunned” by Leonard’s effort, though he ultimately stayed course to link up with Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn.
Although the two-time NBA Finals MVP had been heavily linked to the Clippers throughout the 2018-19 season, which ended with him leading the Toronto Raptors to a championship, the Los Angeles Lakers had become the rumored favorite to land him in recent weeks.
Instead, Leonard was working hard behind the scenes to find another superstar to join him with L.A.’s other title hopeful rather than become the third All-Star alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
“At the same time he was meeting with the Los Angeles Lakers and Toronto Raptors this week, Leonard was meeting, calling and texting with George, trying to convince him to find a way out of Oklahoma City,” Shelburne wrote.
The details are quite surprising because of Leonard’s quiet public demeanor. He doesn’t seem like somebody who’d go all-out trying to find a running mate, let alone put himself out there trying to attract two of the NBA’s top players in Durant and George to join his squad.
“For a quiet guy, he’s a hell of a recruiter,” a source close to George told Shelburne.
Leonard’s efforts paid off, as the Clippers are the new favorite to win the 2020 NBA title:
James, Davis and the Lakers aren’t far behind, however, and it should make for an awesome rivalry as the battle for Los Angeles could ultimately become the battle for NBA supremacy, as well.