Leonard set to head home to the LA Clippers

LOS ANGELES • Kawhi Leonard is set to return home to play for the Los Angeles Clippers, after ESPN and The Athletic reported on Friday night that the forward will sign with them less than a month after leading the Toronto Raptors to their first NBA championship.

Besides the two-time National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals Most Valuable Player who grew up in Riverside, California, the Clippers have also reportedly acquired forward Paul George in a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted that Leonard received a four-year, US$142 million (S$193 million) maximum contract.

In order to acquire George, the Clippers will send guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and forward Danilo Gallinari to Oklahoma City.

The Thunder will also receive four unprotected first-round draft picks, one protected first-round pick and two draft-pick swops, according to the ESPN report.

Leonard, 29, who was acquired in a trade from the San Antonio Spurs last July, reportedly selected the Clippers over the Raptors and the Los Angeles Lakers.

He 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 play-off games averaging 30.5 points with 9.1 rebounds.

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 Spurs and the Raptors.

George, 29, who makes the Los Angeles area his off-season home, averaged 28 points per game with 8.2 rebounds for the Thunder last season.

In nine NBA seasons, he has averaged 19.8 points and 6.4 rebounds in 604 games (556 starts) with the Indiana Pacers and Oklahoma City.

The six-time All-Star played just six games in the 2014-15 season because of a serious leg injury.

He reportedly requested a trade from the Thunder after Leonard had reached his deal with the Clippers, the ESPN report indicated.

Gilgeous-Alexander, who turns 21 next week, was the No. 11 overall pick in the 2018 draft. As a rookie for the Clippers last season, he averaged 10.8 points and 3.3 assists.

Gallinari, 30, put up career bests of 19.8 points and 6.1 rebounds for the Clippers last season.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 07, 2019, with the headline 'Leonard set to head home to the LA Clippers'. Print Edition | Subscribe