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Paul George Reveals Kawhi Leonard’s 2019 Recruitment Could’ve Led to a Raptors Team-Up

Abhishek Dhariwal
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Paul George Reveals Kawhi Leonard's 2019 Recruitment Could've Led To A Raptors Team Up

Imagine Kawhi Leonard following up his historic 2019 championship run with the Toronto Raptors by attracting Paul George to the team as well. A squad of Kyle Lowry, Leonard, George, Pascal Siakam, and Marc Gasol at the five would’ve been a problem for the league. But did you know this almost became a reality back in 2019?

PG recently opened up about a conversation he had with Kawhi Leonard after he won a title with the Raptors. Revealing how a Leonard-George duo could’ve very well happened in Toronto, King George discusses further details of how they chose to go to the Clippers on his podcast, Podcast P with Paul George.

“Me and him were just working on how can we make this happen. And I was close to going to Toronto. Like, we were deciding to go to Toronto or the Clippers. Ultimately, the Clippers put something better, a better package together, a better trade package together that sent me to LA.”

PG13 congratulated Leonard the very same night he won his second NBA championship. Kawhi ended up calling him right after, asking if he was doing well with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Rumors were that players were trying to get out of OKC, whereas George had just signed a four-year/$137 million deal with a player option. This was right after the Thunders were humiliated by the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference playoffs.

Poised to help the Thunders’ franchise return to its glory days, George’s decision to stay in Oklahoma changed after his conversation with Kawhi Leonard. And as he mentioned, the Clippers were able to offer a better deal to the Thunder as compared to the Raptors.

This led Young Trece to get traded to the Los Angeles Clippers and Kawhi’s decision to not sign a contract extension with the Raptors, despite his historic championship run.

Kawhi may have chosen Paul George over Westbrook

As per BleacherReport, it was Russell Westbrook who had initially spoken to the Oklahoma City Thunder’s front office for a potential trade. After losing to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals in 2015, the Thunder were knocked out of the first round for the next four seasons.

The final nail in the coffin may have been Damian Lillard’s game-winning buzzer-beater. That long-range bomb helped the Portland Trail Blazers defeat Oklahoma City 4-1 in the first round and ended up sending the Thunder into rebuilding mode.

Lillard waving the Thunder goodbye after hitting the game-winner went on to become an iconic moment in NBA history. This was followed by the Thunder trading away Paul George to the Clippers and finally parting ways with Russell Westbrook, sending him to the Houston Rockets.

It is also rumored that it was Russell Westbrook who had contacted Kawhi Leonard first for a potential team-up. But Kawhi may have backdoored Russ and chose to team up with Paul George in LA instead. However, all three stars did get to play together eventually.

Who would’ve guessed that Westbrook would soon go on to join PG and Kawhi in LA a few years later? Well, that too has come to an end as George has now signed with the Philadelphia 76ers and Westbrook is looking to sign with the Denver Nuggets for the upcoming season.

About the author

Abhishek Dhariwal

Abhishek Dhariwal

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A fan of the sport since the late 2000s, Abhishek has been covering the game of basketball for the past five years now. Having done his masters in Journalism and Mass Communication, Abhishek prides himself in being referred to as a sports journalist at The SportsRush. A fan of the San Antonio Spurs since the Tim Duncan era, Abhishek has an extensive knowledge of the sport and has covered more than 1500 articles. Having a firsthand experience of the sport, Abhishek has represented his city and state at a district and national level. And it is the same level of expertise he aims to bring while covering extensive topics both on and off the court of your favorite basketball stars.

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