Doc Rivers gave a bit of insight into how the Los Angeles Clippers pulled off one of the biggest coups of the offseason and nabbed both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. In a new interview with the Los Angeles Times, Rivers revealed details about the conversations with Kawhi and Clippers' owner Steve Ballmer ahead of the massive trade for George.
Rivers shared that he wouldn't want to coach in a Los Angeles where their cross-town rivals had both Kawhi and LeBron.
"We cannot allow that to happen. I told Steve jokingly, 'If that happens, we’re moving the team to Seattle.' I really believed that,” Rivers said.
The process to land the most-coveted free agent of the offseason wasn't easy. The Clippers had to make themselves attractive to Leonard and Rivers had to sell Ballmer on the trade that would make that possible. In a meeting with Leonard at his Malibu home before the trade, Leonard apparently laid it out the plain. He told Ballmer that the Clippers weren't good enough for him, as currently constructed.
"He said, ‘Mr. Ballmer, I love the things you do and what you stand for, but your team is not good enough and if you don’t change your team, I’m not coming,’" Rivers recalled.
Rivers said Leonard handpicked George for the Clippers and would not move off of him.
"We just showed him guys that we thought would match him and when he saw Paul George’s name he said, ‘I want to play with him.’ We showed him everybody else and he didn’t want to hear it. He just stayed on Paul George," Rivers said.
More than any other offseason, this one was filled with backroom talks and multi-player deals that were seemingly orchestrated by the players themselves, and the NBA has been on alert about potential tampering. Rivers said the team was pulled aside and warned about tampering by the league during their attempts to influence Leonard.
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