Final wicked twist in wild NBA drama

Kawhi Leonard turned the NBA’s free agency period into a real-life season of Game of Thrones, pulling off a killer finale by coaxing Paul George to join him at the LA Clippers when most of the world thought he would either stay in Toronto or sign with the Lakers.

But the twists didn’t stop there.

Reports from the US have revealed Leonard has only committed to the Clippers for the next two seasons, signing a three-year $103 million contract with a player-option for the 2021-22 season that aligns his deal with George.

Last point on Kawhi Leonard's contract: It makes the haul that the Clippers traded away for Paul George — already the biggest for any one player in league history — even bigger when they have their new superstar duo only locked in for two years #thisinsaneleague

It maintains a level of pressure on the Clippers to keep Leonard in position to contend for championships during that time — and leaves the league headed for another climactic free agency in two years when a host of other huge names, including LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo, hit the market.

2021 free agency market could be stacked 🤯

🔹Kawhi
🔹Bron
🔹PG
🔹Giannis pic.twitter.com/N3M3mkNlZ5

The Clippers completed their blockbuster trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday, acquiring George for guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, forward Danilo Gallinari and five first-round draft picks — along with the chance to swap draft places in two other years.

“Paul George is one of the greatest two-way players in our game,” Clippers President Lawrence Frank said. “He is both an elite scorer and a relentless defender whose versatility elevates any team. When you have the opportunity to acquire a contributor of his caliber, you do what it takes to bring him home.”

The Clippers surrendered their first-round picks in 2022, 2024 and 2026, plus sent ones for 2021 and 2023 that were obtained through Miami, to Oklahoma City to complete the George trade. Oklahoma City also has the right to swap first-round picks with the Clippers in 2023 and 2025.

NETS UP AGAINST THE CLOCK TOO

Kevin Durant. Picture: Vaughn Ridley/Getty ImagesSource:AFP

The Nets have three years to keep Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

Both players have player options for the fourth season of their respective contracts, according to ESPN, meaning they can become free agents again in 2022.

In essence, that means Durant is only guaranteed to play two seasons in Brooklyn, as he’s not expected to play this season after suffering an Achilles tear in the NBA Finals. Although, the Nets have left open the possibility of Durant returning at some point during the 2019-20 season.

Opting out wouldn’t necessarily mean the two All-Stars leaving. Durant and LeBron James have both signed one-year deals in the past with the intention of re-signing, as a way of squeezing the full maximum salary out of their teams.

In any case, Brooklyn would likely agree happily to whatever terms Durant and Irving want. But with Durant likely out next season, the Nets’ championship window may only be two years long.

— New York Post

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