Get Ready for the Battle of Los Angeles
With the Clippers now established as legitimate title contenders, it sets up what should be a tantalizing rivalry between both of Los Angeles’ basketball teams.
The earthquake that shook much of Southern California Friday night was not caused by underground rock rubbing against each other and breaking apart. It was Kawhi Leonard shocking the entire basketball world after deciding to take his talents to Los Angeles for four years, $142 million. But not to the Lakers; the Clippers.
In addition to that, his new team was able to swing a deal for Oklahoma City’s star wingman, Paul George, for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, four unprotected first-rounders, one protected first-rounder, and two pick swaps, according to the ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
It’s a lot to give up, but for a win-now team that reportedly would have only gotten Leonard to sign-on if they had acquired George, it’s a move they had to make. One that has them as the preseason favorites heading into the 2019-2020 season.
2019-20 NBA Championship updated
GS, Hou 10/1
Ind, Dal 40/1
Tor, Mia, Sac 80/1
OKC, NO, Orl 100/1
NYK, Atl, Chi, Det, Phx 200/1
Min, Mem 300/1
Cha, Cle 1000/1— Jeff Sherman (@golfodds) July 6, 2019
But beyond that, the Clippers were able to kill two birds with one stone, preventing Los Angeles’ legacy franchise, and Staples Center co-tenants, the Lakers, from getting Leonard. And in doing so, they acted as the NBA’s last line of defense against the purple & gold becoming the next great dynasty that would have run the league unbothered.
And from the Lakers’ point-of-view, it’s disappointing to miss out on a player of Leonard’s caliber, and had them asking “Kawhi not us?”. But, they did not dwell on the disappointment too long, quickly filling out their roster Friday night and Saturday morning.
Both rosters are pretty much set now, with a few tweaks expected here and there. But it’s a ‘Battle of Los Angeles’ that should bring a lot of drama and excitement. LeBron James and Anthony Davis vs. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. It doesn’t get much better.
The Western Conference runs through Los Angeles once again, housing arguably the two best rosters (with star power galore) in the game. They each have their two top-level stars surrounded by adequate depth to round out their respective rosters. And the fact that they share the same building only adds to the matchup.
Kawhi’s decision also means that the league has parity for the first time in years, making it the best-case scenario for the NBA. There are a handful of teams (potentially eight or nine) that could legitimately say they have a chance at the Larry O’Brien trophy, but they will most likely have to go through the City of Angels to get their hands on it.
And why is that? Well, the Denver Nuggets are up-and-coming, but are you going to take Nikola Jokic, a young Jamal Murray, and youngsters with question marks over Kawhi and George, or LeBron and AD, plus depth?
What about the perennial disappointing Houston Rockets? Or the upgraded Utah Jazz, that still have to prove they can play together. Not to mention they still lack that true superstar to lead them. And it’s hard to say that the Portland Trailblazers are better than either Los Angeles team.
The NBA is still a stars league, with superstars ultimately winning over anything else, and La-La Land has arguably the best ones. But 2019 also reminded us that you need to surround them with depth, and both these teams have done just that.
Whatever the case, an all-LA Western Conference Finals has a strong chance of happening, and for the average basketball fan, it should have everything they can ask for. If you are interested to learn more about us and receive email updates and newsletters on your favorite team(s), click here!
Featured Image via Flickr/Sean Go