We finally know what took Kawhi Leonard so long to make his decision.
While we all thought he was weighing out the option of playing for the Los Angeles Lakers or the Toronto Raptors, what he was really waiting on was a blockbuster trade.
Jerry West pulled the biggest rabbit out of his hat late Friday night, as he turned all the draft capital he has been stockpiling into Paul George, and in exchange, the top free agent on the market.
Leonard’s plan all along was to team up with George and the Clippers, so he implored PG13 to demand a trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder.
After it was long assumed that George would be heading to L.A. in free agency last year, he refused meeting with any other teams, signing on to play alongside Russell Westbrook long-term.
Well now Westbrook has been left twice by an MVP-caliber teammate, after George decided that he wanted to be in his hometown after all.
While Westbrook no longer has an All-Star to run with, the Thunder still got a massive package back in return.
For their roster next year, the Thunder get promising young point guard Shay Gilgeous-Alexander and veteran Danilo Gallinari.
Gilgeous-Alexander averaged 13.7 points and 3.2 assists in the playoffs this year, showing that he has a bright future in the NBA. The Thunder also get five first-round draft picks, giving them plenty of assets to build around Westbrook in the future.
Coming into this offseason, the Clippers were always seen as the front-runners to get Kawhi and another max player, but no one had that player being Paul George.
Once they had the deal to acquire George, Leonard promptly signed a four-year, $142 million max contract with the Clippers.
This offseason the two biggest markets in the NBA, L.A. and New York, landed all of the top superstar free agents. The crazy part is that they went to the teams that have always been perceived as secondary in their market.
At least the Lakers are left with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, as opposed to the roster that will be playing in Madison Square Garden.
One thing is clear after this blockbuster move tonight. The Staples Center is going to feature the best show in the sport next year, as this could be the start of one of the greatest crosstown rivalries in the history of sports.
Stephen Curry to Return to the Lineup on Sunday Against the Washington Wizards
The Golden State Warriors season essentially ended on October 30th, when an awkward fall resulted in a broken hand for Stephen Curry.
Curry has since been sidelined for four months and in his absence, the Warriors have gone 11-43 and sit with the wowarst record in the NBA.
Luckily things are about to get a lot better for Warriors fans, as Curry is set to return to lineup for Golden State on Sunday.
Adding a six-time All-Star, three-time champion and two-time MVP back into the starting lineup is sure to help the Warriors win a few more games down the stretch.
In the four games Curry played this year he shot 24% from three-point range, which is something he will look to clean up over the final games of this season.
Golden State has their eyes toward the future, looking to land a top lottery pick to their roster and incumbent Big Three of Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.
The Warriors have 25 games left this season and are four games behind the closest team for the worst record in the NBA.
As long as Golden State finishes with one of the three worst records in the NBA, they will have the best possible odds of winning the lottery. So Curry’s arrival should not hurt their position in that regard.
Instead Curry will bring some excitement to an ailing fan base, while building some chemistry with Andrew Wiggins and the other young Warriors that may be on the roster next season.
Philadelphia 76ers’ Ben Simmons Out Indefinitely with Back Injury
The Philadelphia 76ers were dealt a big blow on Saturday when Ben Simmons left their game against the Milwaukee Bucks with a back injury.
Since the injury, Simmons has been resting but it was clear that the injury was significant enough that he would miss a few games at least.
Now the injury has been diagnosed as nerve impingement in his lower back, sidelining him for at least two weeks.
If Simmons is meeting with the doctors in two weeks, that will keep him out of the Sixers lineup until March 10th at least. During that time Philadelphia will play at least six games without him.
While everyone is different, back injuries are always difficult to predict timelines for and there is a great chance that Simmons will miss more than two weeks. He will likely need to rehab after being cleared by the doctors.
The Sixers have struggled with chemistry and continuity all year and were hoping to build some over the final stretch of the season. Now they are just hoping to get Simmons 100% for the playoffs.
Philadelphia’s final 24 games of the season are very important to their success in the playoffs, as they are currently in a dog fight in the standings with five teams jockeying for playoff positioning.
The Milwaukee Bucks have really pulled away from the pack as the East’s top team, with the Toronto Raptors following a similar path behind them for the two-seed.
The Sixers currently sit 14 games behind the Bucks, six behind Toronto and are four games behind the Boston Celtics.
Now that Simmons is hurt, Philadelphia really should have their eyes set on the Miami Heat, with a single loss separating the two teams.
The Indiana Pacers need not be forgotten in this race, as they sit two games behind Philadelphia in the standings.
Still, it appears that Philadelphia and Miami are on a collision course for a four-five matchup in the first round of the playoffs. Home court will be a critical advantage to secure.
The Sixers have the best home record in the NBA at 27-2. Meanwhile the Heat are not too far behind with a 23-3 record in Miami.
Phialdelphia also has the worst road record of any playoff team at 9-20, so they desperately need to find a way to win that advantage over the final stretch of the season.
Losing Ben Simmons for a significant period of time could very well cost the Sixers the playoff position they need to make a deep run in the East.
Upcoming Summer Olympics in Jeopardy of Being Cancelled Due to Coronavirus
Basketball fans and sports fans alike look forward to the Summer Olympics every four years, as a celebration of the best athletes around the world.
This year’s festivities are scheduled to take place in Tokyo, Japan, although there is a chance that the games don’t get played at all.
Due to the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus, an IOC member has indicated that the Olympics may be heading towards a cancellation.
The virus which first began to spread around Asia has already infected more 80,000 people around the world, with no imminent cure or vaccine being in place at this time.
If this remains a cause for concern for officials, the anticipated Olympics may need to be cancelled to prevent further spread of the virus.
There is still time to make this decision, with the games being schedule to begin on July 24th. But if the outbreak is not contained in the coming months, we could see the first cancellation of an Olympics in over 75 years.
The Olympics have been cancelled three times since their inception in 1896. This would be the first peacetime cancellation of the games however.
In 1916 the games were cancelled because of World War I. World War II prevented the 1940 and 1944 games from being played.
Hopefully health officials can contain the coronavirus and we don’t have an unprecedented cancellation of the Olympics this summer.
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