The Clippers were considered a favorite to win the NBA title for the first time ever, following the acquisitions of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. All it cost them was a $103 million contract, five first round picks and their chemistry.
When Tyronn Lue takes over as the new head coach of the Clippers, the former Cavaliers boss will be tasked with repairing a fractured relationship between the Clippers’ two superstars and the overachieving core which led the Clippers to the playoffs the previous season.
A report from The Athletic states that Patrick Beverly, Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams — among others — were specifically bothered with the preferential treatment given to Leonard, who led the Raptors to the NBA title the season before his arrival. Among the grievances with the two-time NBA Finals MVP was the frequency with which he was allowed to take games off to rest his body and the team’s permission for Leonard to live in San Diego, which reportedly made him frequently late for team flights from Los Angeles. The report states that Leonard was also allowed to dictate when he was removed from games.
The dysfunction was a factor in the team’s shocking second-round exit in the playoffs and the firing of coach Doc Rivers.
If the team can’t play up to its potential next season, the Clippers’ title window could instantly close. Leonard and George could both opt out of their deals and become free agents if they are unhappy with life in Los Angeles. George’s relationship with his teammates also seems less than ideal.
George signed a four-year, $136.9 million deal with Oklahoma City in 2018, including a $37.9 million player option in the final season. Leanord’s three-year, $103.1 million deal also includes a player option in the final year, worth $36 million.
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