Clippers add Kawhi Leonard, Paul George; dueling superstar duos in L.A.

Staples Center in Los Angeles will house dueling superstar tandems next season.

The Clippers, after laboring in the Lakers’ shadow in Los Angeles for nearly four decades, now will share top billing after they made a splash late Friday by signing free agent Kawhi Leonard and acquiring fellow All-Star Paul George, whom Leonard helped persuade to request a trade from the Thunder to the Clippers, according to three people familiar with the negotiations.

Leonard committed the next four years of his career to the Clippers — for the maximum $142 million — but only after his new team managed to swing the deal for George in order to meet Leonard’s prerequisite that he be joined by another elite player.

Leonard, George and the Clippers will share an arena with the Lakers, who added Anthony Davis to their lineup alongside LeBron James.

The Lakers’ trade for Davis was still pending Saturday evening, as were other deals like the sign-and-trade that will have Kevin Durant leaving Golden State for Brooklyn, Kyrie Irving’s signing with the Nets and the Warriors’ deal that will keep Klay Thompson around at nearly $190 million for five years.

In exchange for George, the Thunder get four unprotected first-round draft picks (one belonging to Miami), one protected first-round pick (also through Miami), two first-round draft pick swaps, as well as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (a guard who made the all-rookie team) and veteran forward Danilo Gallinari.

After a passionate pitch to Leonard on Monday from coach Doc Rivers, the Clippers surrendered more for a superstar player than any team in league history. Their reasoning: The Clippers saw this as trading for both George and Leonard — while also keeping Leonard away from their Staples Center co-tenants.

Leonard’s decision was the most eagerly awaited move in perhaps the wildest week of free agency in league history. Nearly 50 players committed to contracts worth more than $3 billion in the first 12 hours after the market opened June 30, followed by a virtual bottleneck in movement while Leonard decided on his next employer.

Yet it was the Lakers, above all, who met with their worst fears. The glamour franchise paid a heavy premium to get the Pelicans to trade Davis last month and strongly believed in recent days that through the recruiting efforts of James, Davis and Magic Johnson, it had overcome months of organizational dysfunction to move to the top of Leonard’s list.

The Lakers signed former Warriors DeMarcus Cousins and Quinn Cook on Saturday, brought back point guard Rajon Rondo on a two-year deal, retained center JaVale McGee with a contract extension and added free-agent shooting guard Danny Green from the Raptors.

• The Magic signed center Nikola Vucevic to a $100 million, four-year contract, signed swingman Terrence Ross to a four-year, $54 million deal and signed forward Al-Farouq Aminu to a three-year contract that could be worth nearly $30 million.

Deals made official

With the moratorium on player movement lifted , several big deals that were previously reported became official:

• The Trail Blazers signed point guard Damian Lillard to a four-year extension that would be worth $196 million if Lillard exercises the final year of the deal in 2024-25.

• The Heat got a four-team trade completed to acquire Jimmy Butler from Philadelphia on a four-year, $142 million contract. Miami also gets Meyers Leonard from Portland and cash from the Clippers. Hassan Whiteside leaves Miami for Portland, Philadelphia gets Josh Richardson from Miami and the Clippers sent Moe Harkless to Portland as well. The Clippers also got a first-round protected pick from Miami, which became part of the trade for George.

• Indiana’s sign-and-trade acquisition of Malcolm Brogdon from Milwaukee was completed. The Bucks got three draft picks — one first-rounder and two second-rounders — and the former rookie of the year got a four-year, $85 million deal.

• The Hornets acquired Terry Rozier and a protected 2020 second-round draft pick from the Celtics for three-time All-Star Kemba Walker and a 2020 second-round draft pick as part of a sign-and-trade agreement.

• Chicago signed forward Thaddeus Young to a $41 million, three-year contract.

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Clippers-add-Kawhi-Leonard-Paul-George-dueling-14076678.php.

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