LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The most prized player in the NBA’s free agency sweepstakes is officially an L.A. Clipper.
NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard signed a deal with the Clippers Wednesday, the team confirmed.
Leonard’s deal is for three years and $103 million, Shams Charania with The Athletic reports. However, the third year has a player option attached, which would allow Leonard to test free agency again in the summer 2021.
The Clippers were able to land the 27-year-old two time NBA champion by trading for a second superstar, Paul George.
The Clippers traded five first-round picks, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari to the Oklahoma City Thunder to acquire George.
According to reports, Leonard convinced George to ask for a trade to the Clippers, and it was that trade which solidified his decision to join the Clippers.
Leading up to Leonard’s decision, the Lakers had been rumored as the front-runner to acquire him, hoping to create big three of Leonard, LeBron James and Anthony Davis, who was acquired in a trade with the New Orleans Pelicans last month.
For the first time ever, however, both the Lakers and Clippers will be legitimate title contenders in the same season. Las Vegas odds makers have the Clippers as the clear title favorite.
Leonard is a Southern California native. He played basketball at Martin Luther King High School in Riverside and spent two seasons playing for San Diego State University.
“Kawhi is a peerless two-way player, a relentless worker and a natural fit for the serious, professional culture our group has established,” President of Basketball Operations Lawrence Frank said in a statement. “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.”