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Kawhi Leonard and what his Clippers move has done for the NBA landscape

Kawhi is now a two-time NBA champion, having led the Toronto Raptors to their first championship in June
Kawhi is now a two-time NBA champion, having led the Toronto Raptors to their first championship in June
Akhil Khatri
CONTRIBUTOR
Modified 29 Jul 2019, 21:07 IST
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Kawhi Leonard has been the major topic of discussion this off-season, for obvious reasons. Who wouldn't want a Finals MVP on their team? The Lakers, Clippers and former team Toronto Raptors were all in the running to sign Leonard, having won his second NBA title in June - leading Nick Nurse's side to their first ever title.

Ever since his fallout with the San Antonio Spurs, multiple reports suggested he wanted to join one of the two Southern California teams - Lakers or Clippers - given his desire to return closer to home. A surprise trade to the Raptors saw him write history for them, with the franchise and city of Toronto having nothing but love for him. Those feelings are mutual.

In an interview with Chris Haynes, Kawhi said: "It's no discredit to Toronto, I just wanted to play at home. I wanted to do that before I got traded there and obviously when I got there, it was a goal of mine to make history and get them a championship. I feel like I did my job there and that I should be granted to go play where I wanted to after I gave them what they needed."

Kawhi poses for pictures alongside fellow new Clipper Paul George at their unveiling earlier this month
Kawhi poses for pictures alongside fellow new Clipper Paul George at their unveiling earlier this month

The Leonard decision clearly showed he valued playing closer to home rather than making more money and for the chance to play with MVP finalist Paul George, who was acquired from the Oklahoma City Thunder in a blockbuster trade which included five first-round picks.

What has the Kawhi decision done for the league?

Now when keeping all these facts and statistics aside, you have to look objectively: what has Kawhi's decision done for the NBA? It has essentially put an end to the super-team era, while equally placing more teams in the running for the NBA championship too.

Given the Warriors' dominance in recent years, many have criticised the lack of competition at the top, which is ultimately not good for the league. Leonard signing with the Clippers not only places them in title contention, it also brings back parity within the league too. It's something they strive for, with how the NBA Draft system works and there are now at least ten teams who will defiantly argue they have a good opportunity to win it all in 2019/20.

The Clippers have failed to reach the Western Conference Finals in their 49-year existence. With their deadly new star pairing, it presents them with real hope of going all the way in a new season packed with super duos rather than the "big three" mantra that many argued became stale and predictable. With regards to LA, we'll have to wait and see who holds the throne with LeBron James and Anthony Davis leading the Lakers across town. Time will tell.

Published 29 Jul 2019, 20:37 IST
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