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Kawhi Leonard Signs Short Contract, Sparks Conversation

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Details of Kawhi Leonard Contract Spark Conversation

This morning, the details surrounding Kawhi Leonard’s contract with the Los Angeles Clippers were announced: 3 years, $103M, with a player option in the third year. What was astonishing to some it just how short this contract may end up being… And that we may be in another Kawhi Sweepstakes in 2021. Further, Kawhi’s player option year is in the same season as Paul George’s, meaning both of the newest Clippers may be hitting Free Agency at the same time.

This “2+1” contract is reminiscent of contracts like LeBron James or Kevin Durant. The top tier of players can guarantee that they are always max dollar players, and the security they’ve earned in that often trumps the security in a longer contract. For example, Durant suffered a devastating injury in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, and was still comfortable opting out of his contract in Golden State because he knew he could find more money elsewhere.

In one likely scenario, Leonard and George will find success in LA and simply re-up for more money in 2021. They will be eligible for a higher ceiling max contract, both based on their accomplishments and the steady rise of the salary cap.

In another scenario, however, something could go wrong with the pairing in the Clipper locker room and one or both could leave. Further, suitors for the Free Agent class of 2021 suddenly could see Leonard and George joining the likes of fellow NBA All Stars LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Blake Griffin, and Chris Paul, two time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert, and several up and coming young stars like Julius Randle or Justise Winslow.

While this feels new and shaky for the fans, it may be the new reality for the stars. Taking shorter contracts, assuming you can still be rewarded after them, makes logical sense.

But, back to the Clippers, does this make the trade for Paul George feel different? Even if t’s hard to isolate George as the only asset the Clippers received (reports are that he demanded a trade after talking with Kawhi, making it a package deal), but they did give up an unprecedented amount of future draft picks, a solid starting perimeter player in Danilo Gallinari, and a promising young Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

But what the trade for George and signing of Kawhi Leonard did do, as well as the pair of All-NBA signings in Brooklyn, is prove one thing: the best thing a team can do to gain stars is be a strong franchise. The Clippers became the first team in the modern NBA to make the playoffs and win playoff games without any All-Stars. The Nets were a strong six seed led by 23-year-old All-Star in D’Angelo Russell and a cast of other role players.

Now, both teams have two of the best players in the world.

Clearly deals as short as Leonard and George’s may worry fans. The thought that a mortgaged future may be for two years of bliss seems overtly short sighted. But, if lessons from this wild Free Agency teaches us what to think about the impending ones, the answer is not to worry about those things, but to be a strong franchise in a good location.

Or, for Clipper fans, “pLAy your way,” as they claimed to do in the first round of the playoffs last spring.

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Basketball

Chris Paul May Start Year in OKC With No Trade Imminent

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When Chris Paul become a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder in a trade for Russell Westbrook last week, it was assumed that it would only be a pit stop for Paul.

As soon as the deal was done, reports were that Paul was already being shopped by Thunder GM Sam Presti, as he tried to shed payroll in preparation for a rebuild.

Unfortunately this is the worst time to try to move a significant contract, as it is near the end of the free agency and other teams have very little financial flexibility. Because of his limited market, it looks like Paul may stay in OKC for the near future.

The only team that seemed to have interest in Paul was the Miami Heat, as they look to pair a second star alongside their newest addition, Jimmy Butler.

Paul had mutual interest in playing for Miami, where his good friend Dwyane Wade called home for all those years.

Trade talks stalled though when Miami asked for their two first round picks back from the Thunder, which they acquired as part of the deal that sent Paul George to the Clippers.

Because of the Stepien Rule, which states that team’s can’t trade their first-round picks in consecutive years, the Heat can’t trade another first-rounder until 2024 at the earliest.

The Thunder own Miami’s 2021 and 2023 first-round picks, the latter of which is heavily protected. Because of those protections, the Heat also won’t be able to move another pick until that one is used by the Thunder.

So the motivation to get those picks back is obvious for Miami, as they are staring at the possibility of not being able to trade another first-round pick until 2026 when that pick becomes unprotected.

For the Thunder, trading two first-round picks would be tough to swallow as they got two first-rounders along with Paul, so in some regards using picks to get off that contract equates to them trading Westbrook for nothing.

If Paul does in fact start the season with the Thunder, you have to wonder how bad they will really be. Last year, the Thunder went 49-33 and made the playoffs.

While they lost Westbrook and Paul George, they have added Paul, Danilo Gallinari and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander giving them a surprisingly solid roster to compete in the Western Conference.

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Basketball

Enes Kanter Already Becoming a Fan-Favorite in Boston After Taking Shot at Kyrie

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The Boston Celtics announced their newest two members in a press conference today, as Kemba Walker and Enes Kanter were introduced to the media.

Walker may be the headliner, but Kanter is the type of player that offers the media great headlines, as he has always spoken his mind and is a great quote.

Well, Kanter got the whole room laughing at the press conference when he was asked why he chose to wear the No. 11.

When Kanter says that, “He wants to be the last guy to wear it,” he is referring to a quote from Kyrie Irving when he was introduced to the media a few short years ago.

At the time, Irving was still loyal to Boston and was at least articulating the notion that he would be so good that his number would one day be hanging in the rafters.

Now Kanter is wearing the No. 11 for the Celtics, while Irving is hoping to get his number up in the rafters of the Barclays Center for the Brooklyn Nets.

With Kanter’s sense of humor and hard-nosed intensity on the floor, is is sure to become a fan-favorite in Boston. If he isn’t one already.

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Basketball

Klutch Sports’ to Become Part of United Talent Agency’s Sports Division

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Klutch Sports is the sports agency run by LeBron James’ close friend and agent Rich Paul. Klutch represents many of the best basketball players in the NBA, namely LeBron’s newest teammate Antony Davis.

Paul has been building out an impressive client list ever since leaving CAA to form his own agency back in 2012. Now his work is paying off in a big way, as Klutch is set to become part of one of the biggest talent agencies in the world.

United Talent Agency is a major player in Hollywood, representing big-name movie stars such as Kevin Hart and Angelina Jolie.

Up to this point, United Talent did not have their own sports division, so they are essentially making Klutch that division. As part of the deal, Paul will still operate Klutch under that name, but will also be the head of UTA sports.

For years the narrative around Klutch is that it was a somewhat puppet agency for LeBron, where the NBA superstar could represent his friends and wield massive power in the league, with Paul just being the face.

While it is clear that Klutch’s motives align with LeBron’s at times, such as when Davis forced his way to the Lakers, this deal is more about Paul than it is about LeBron.

One of the biggest talent agencies in the world is looking at Paul and saying they want him to be the face and voice of their sports division. Having LeBron as a client surely helps that image, but it is still one that Paul has earned on his own.

Three years ago, Phil Jackson came under fire when he referred to LeBron James’ close friends and business associates as his posse.

James argued in behalf of his friend and all the hard work they have done to become the best at what they do in their respective fields.

As we see the massive success of Paul as an agent and Maverick Carter as a producer, it is about time we give these men the credit for the success that they have earned, rather than just giving all of that to LeBron.

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