Jovan Buha of The Athletic Gives Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Clippers' Crazy Summer and How LA Landed Kawhi Leonard/Paul George (Ep. 146)

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Welcome to the website podcast. My name is Alex Kennedy joining me today as a special guest. He's The Los Angeles Clippers beat writer for the athletic you recently teamed up with Sam Amick and shop Sharana to write a fantastic piece for the athletic that gives a behind the scenes look at how the Los Angeles Clippers landed Andy Cohen Leonard and Paul George this summer his name is Yo- von Buha you can follow him on twitter at Yo von Buha on instagram out you Yvonne Buha Yovany. Thanks for joining amy how are you. I'm doing well. How are you doing? I'm doing well. First of all I got. I got to say this article was fantastic. I've read it three times. Now anyone out there. That's listening to this that has not read the article. Make sure you go check it out. It's pinned on his twitter. You can find it on the athletic. Now you give a behind the scenes look at kind of how this off season came together. One of the biggest off seasons craziest off-season had to longtime in the N._B._A.. But for L._A.. Specifically being able to go out there and Land Kawhi Leonard and Paul George going from a team that didn't have Avatar to maybe the favorites at all this year. It was a really interesting deep dive into how this team came together before we kind of get into some details about this summer that you broke down in the piece he is. How did the article come together because I know you teamed up with Sam and shops on it? Can you kind of walk us through the peace and how it how it kind of came together yeah we'll we'll first off. Thank you for <hes> for reading it three times and and for the praise <hes> but yes so as we allude to in the piece the clippers you know there was a bit of a code of silence with the whole Choir Leonard Situation and that's really just how the clippers operate in general you know as we also point out like the House that they had the Blake Griffin trade they had the Tobias Harris Trade like neither of those deals leaked. There's no prior reporting there was no rumors of either guy being even available billable <hes> that you know the the Clippers Front office in this organization operates very much in the shadows behind the scenes. They're very quiet things privately the and so sam it was a lot of back and forth of Hey. Have you talked to the clippers lately no hey have you talked to the clippers lately. No and we just Kinda were having this ongoing ongoing dialogue of like you know. Let me know when you're finally able to get a hold of some people and I you know the whole quiet. Paul George Situation took another <hes> you know week plus after had been announced to be finalized. I think once it was finalized. That's when the front office in certain people within the organization or finally only comfortable you know at least talking about a little bit of stuff kind of behind the scenes so you know it. Just it just kind of get some of that background was was very important and that was kind of like the spark that led down this road <hes> so seven I was talking to certain people <hes> and kind of getting some insight into kind of some of the situations that we discuss in the story. I think we both ended up getting more than we thought we were going to get and then from there. It was like all right well. Let's you know initially. We're Kinda like let's just see what we can get. Maybe cobbled together. Some type of like you know a thousand word inside retype short posts of like here's a little nugget or two that you know you didn't know about the quiet Leonard Situation <hes> because really the only thing that have been out there was like they met at Doc Rivers House and there was like a meat and cheese platter or something like that <hes> but we're like all right so let's try and get something about the meeting or let's try and get some you know <unk> something behind the scenes and we both got more than we thought <hes> and you know that kind of sparked conversations with other people and then can you know doing our due diligence of making sure we had multiple sides covered multiple teams covered <hes> and Kinda just went back and forth and kind of mass giant documents of notes and it was it was a bit of weird timing because Sam was is actually going out of the country that week this was so sorry came out. Today is what Saturday so he came out on Tuesday so that <hes> we started working on it the week before <hes> so I guess you know almost like a week and a half ago and that weekend Sam was going out of the country to London so there's a bit of like a time crunch with the whole situation where we wanted to start working on the story as soon as possible because of Sam leaving <hes> so we exchanged notes with each other <hes> we we kind of had a back and forth of okay. This is interesting. You know like this seems to be included in the story. This is how we could word this <hes> <hes> you know maybe we shouldn't include this. I just kind of those types of talks. <hes> and then Sam wrote like a skeleton kind of shell of you know a lot of this stuff he felt should be in it and then I kind of took it from there and started to break it down more until like the narrative more into the you know I think it was six different parts overall <hes> and then kind of take you know taking what he wrote as kind of like the blueprint and then adding you know kind of flushing it out adding some insight on my end from some stuff I'd gotten 'cause 'cause he. Kinda wrote it from his side of things <hes> and then really back and forth from that point of draft after draft after draft of sending it to him him you know highlighting stuff a. and changing the wording on stuff having a couple of editors look at it before we even really submitted like a first draft and then really that weekend leading into Tuesday drafts editors looking at it <hes> than pushing back on certain things I'm questioning certain things and I think for me. It was just a really fun process process of I never really had a coal reported story before so this is something that was new for me a so just having that process s. o of you know reporting something with somebody you know just the and especially the story of this magnitude like it you know it was that was the probably the coolest as part of his. I knew with some of the details and information we had gotten this was going to be a really big story. <hes> you know is probably going to be talked about <hes> on Komo sports center in the jump and like different things and it was gonna get aggregated and it was like you know I mean like without a doubt. This is the biggest story I've ever worked on <hes> <hes> so that was really cool and then so on on Saturday. The story came out Tuesday on Saturday. You know one of the cool things about the athletic I really like is just how collaborative everything thing is in. You know how they encourage us to use all of our resources and you know we have a slack channel share like pretty much. Most people sports companies do but you know our M._B._A.. Channel is so great because we we just always are if people are reaching out. Hey you know this agent. Hey you know this person. Hey can you help at this and everyone is very very helpful and in collaborative so <hes> we reach out to to Shams to just see like hey you know <hes>. Can you take a look at the story. <hes> do all all these details. Check out to you. Is there anything that we don't have that. You think we should add. Is there anything you have that we could potentially add <hes> so you know he went through. It kind confirmed pretty much everything we had. Was You know he you know he had heard for the most part and then he had some conversations with people and added some things in that <hes> you know that we highlighted in the story and I thought those the stuff he added. I thought was really important. <hes> some quotes just some insight on the the meeting and kind of from coincided things and I just thought that that was a really nice touch of questions that were asked and stuff like that. I thought that was really nice. Touch such a story it Kinda gave it a even deeper layer an element and then you know it all came together by really Monday night was kind of the final push a show of the last look at it making sure everything was good making sure we're okay with the wording 'cause the warning and a lot of these situations can be very delicate <hes> and then from there it was scheduled for seven A._M.. Eastern and then the Kinda was madness from their very cool. Well you guys crushed it. It was a fantastic disagreed as I mentioned I want to talk about some specific things that you guys wrote about in the article <hes>. Let's start from you know during the season. Let's let's rewind a little bit throughout the year. There was a lot of talk talk about Kawhi Leonard possibly going to the clippers. We know he was interested in Los Angeles. <hes> the clippers were very aggressive and upfront in their recruiting. You know you mentioned this in the article about Lawrence Lawrence Frank's scouting him at Games which is kind of unheard of Steve Bomber flying to Toronto at one point to watch him play the even try to get creative. There were reports that you know they were looking into purchasing Kawhi Leonard logo from Nike and maybe getting back to him since I know he was he was suing Nike for the rights of that logo. There were a lot of different reports. I guess throughout the year about coli being linked to the clippers. What did you make of the clippers recruiting and how confident were they that they'd be able to land coup why I think there are cautiously optimistic optimistic like you? You never really know in free agency and I. I think we've seen that now with with this Marcus Morris situation that just happened this summer with the Andre Jordan the situation that happened in two thousand fifteen where even when someone verbally agrees. There's still that you know one percent chance they back out and you know I think we've we've seen it time and time again where you know not not even the verbal agreements but you know someone is linked to a certain team and everyone thinks they're going to sign there and then they go you know Katie was going to the the Knicks all season and then he ended up on the nets and you'll see that time and time again where there's there's so much uncertainty with free agency that until you know you you don't even need the verbal agreement you like you need them signing the contract and then you're like okay you know they're. They're on our team so I I think for the clippers. <hes> you know we're part of what I wrote about. was that <hes> this was a supposed to really be a long rebuilding process that Kinda got short-circuited and and kind of there's a shortcut with it <hes> where you know when when when the front office formed <hes> you know a lot of like the whole Blake Griffin thing I is its own podcast like you know we can talk about that for an hour like a lot of the criticism that kind of came towards the clippers about loyalty and all this stuff like their front office was not formed until after they had already signed Blake Griffin and I think that's the thing that gets lost in all of this is <hes> you know the front office structure was completely different at the time that they signed Blake Griffin than it is now and that it <hes> even was a month after they signed so it was kind of like it almost happened in reverse order where they had their off season. They traded Chris Paul. They resigned Blake. They signed a Neil Galadari and then they form their front office so the front office wasn't necessarily on board at that like you. We don't know it'll be <hes> and all time what if like who knows what would have happened if if the front office had been in place if they would have still resigned Blake Griffin now reciting Blake Griffin allowed them to kind go down this path because they ultimately ended up flipping infants of bias and assets than they hoped to bias for even more assets to Philly and then all those assets or you know some some of them were used in the trade for Paul George so it was kind of like for them when when they decided to trade blake they were like we're looking at twenty twenty one twenty twenty two who as as the start of us being good as US getting a star free agent as US kind of you know making that turn around as a franchise and they were look at the next four to five years as you know. We're going to build an infrastructure. We're going to build a culture. We're going to be this blue-collar. hard-working team Steve Bombers from Detroit the bad boy pistons are his favorite team of all time and he wanted to build a franchise organization that represents that so I think you see the teams identity the last couple years it has been along those lines. It's been undrafted guys second round. Pick Skies Career Journeyman who bounced around <hes> <hes> you know guys who who've been counted out and I think that's kind of been the rallying cry and you know two years ago. They almost made the playoffs. They're the nine seed last year. They made the playoffs title push the warriors the six games and I think they were confident that that type of organizational culture was really appealing to star free agents but particularly quiet Leonard and you know Lawrence Frank said it after the press conference basically it was like we kind of built this Organization for quite specifically specifically like you know everything. We're doing to appeal to a guy like Colli and I I think you know you just kind of seen it with all the moves they've made you know they they they have prioritized tough-minded defensive-minded greedy guys and it it's not I think a lot of times teams will throw around culture and you see rebuilding teams are trying to build their culture every single day or I mean I every single year and it's it's like a new head coach a new star player a new starting lineup. Whatever and now word gets thrown around a lot but I really do think as Cliche as it might sound? The clippers have bill a really strong culture these last two years and that ended up being a really big big factor in in getting and then getting Paul George and both guys mentioned that at their introductory press conference like they both were attracted to this culture they both feel like they relate to guys like Pat Beverley and new Williams in Mantras Herrell. They happen to be better than those guys in there on that superstar level but I think overall what it's really impressive what the clippers have been able to do these last couple of years because to me. It's one of the quickest turnarounds we've ever seen. Yeah I agree with you. It makes sense. I think you know being able to you have guys that are similar in terms of their two way play and you know the way they kind of you themselves. As players defense is important obviously even down to we're talking about in terms of the silence Linson secrecy like you mentioned with Blake Griffin Trailing Tobias Harris Trade. There were no leaks you know it was kind of a surprise to everyone. The moment it happened so they can point to certain things and say we kind of see the world the same way whereas you I agree there so they had the the clippers had a three hour meeting with Hawaii and his camp at dockers home you kind of alluded to that. <hes> Steve Balmer Lawrence Frank Jerry West were all in attendance. Can you share some details about the clippers pitch in terms of on the The Clippers Clippers Colli and this wasn't just the thing with Colli in the clippers. This was really you know. Colli and all three teams involved it was very open communication and you know he was having talks with with all three teams. You know two three times a day asking them questions having conversations conversations in really <hes> you know kind of sussing out the situation to to kind of you know anytime he had a question it was reaching out and trying to figure out what the answer is going Abi so <hes> you know that was something we learn what was just <hes> you know. I I think sometimes this narrative that Clyde is a bit passive in just because he's quiet and unreserved <hes> people kind of put that on him but <hes> you know from from the people we spoke to that were involved in the process. It was very much know Qu- is actually you know very assertive in in very curious in <unk> very intelligent and was asking really smart questions that <hes> you know they had never been asked before so <hes> <hes> side with the page it was a lot of <hes> excuse me like look at the last two years. Look at what we've been able to do. Look at all the string string of smart moves. We've been able to make an that's kind of what the clippers you know. We're trying to show him was that you know we've been able to turn this into this. That's that's better and we've been able to turn that into another thing that's better and on and on and on and all these dominoes of like look at where we were two years ago to where we are now and Dan you know we have all these picks all these young guys all these assets. <hes> you know we have Steve of the richest owner in the four North American Professional Sports Doc. Who's a championship coach? We have the smartphone office. We have Los Angeles <hes> and you don't you know you as someone who's a bit of a private person. Don't have to deal with the you know the the Lakers and their <hes> you know kind of media circus of of you know just having having the Lakers and Lebron together as its own. It's almost like a finals game every game at Staples Center and <hes> I think they kinda just were appealing to him on his sensibilities ladies and you know we're GonNa do everything we can to to have the best possible future for you and you know whether that's investing in <hes> in our medical staff staff whether that's load management. If you WANNA do that like basically like whatever whatever you WanNa do were here for you and we're going to build this organization and continue to to build it around you and I think that pitch was just very the personality just clicked and he you know him and dot clicked really well. <hes> you know him. In Lawrence <unk> Good Conversation Steve Obviously Stephen I think he he likes Steve's vision and just kind of it's competitiveness and stuff so and then Jerry is like Jerry Jerry Jerry's the logo Jerry's you know the ultimate front office executive. Probably you know the best the most accessible one of all time so I just think that really you're there or even having conversations in there was already that interest level but that three hour meeting in person kind of took it to another level where everybody you just clicked. Everybody was on the same page and you know all of these questions were answered in your from what we had heard the clippers answered all of his questions you you know better than either of the other teams so <hes> that that was something that was really important for him. Jerry West obviously he's been part of you know a number of incredible free creation signings Shaquille O'Neal with Lakers Kevin Durant <hes> with the warriors. How much of a role did he play? I know he's a consultant obviously in the front office and as you mentioned he was in the meeting but what what kind of role did he play in attracting Wie Andere Paul George to the clippers. I think I I think a a small but important one in and this is something that Jerry's even talked about recently. He's done a couple of recent interviews us on the Dan Patrick Show and he said you know like I don't want people giving me credit for bringing colline Paul George because like you know it. It doesn't take a lot of a lot of brains to to want those two guys and then you know you gotTa give credit to the office and that was kind of like the gist of sort of you know what you're trying trying to say and <hes> but at the same time like I I just think Jerry such an influential figure in again. He's literally the logo like people I think people respect him. I'm so much that you know when he talks it just matters more than when other people talk and I I think four the clippers like one of the things that he and Steve <hes> bomber. We're really pushing. Were you know 'cause there was some trepidation on the clippers end of like. Are we giving up too much you know to get you're not really getting Paul George alone. You're getting Paul George Coe why so I think like anyone who thinks they gave up too much in that trade isn't really looking at it from the perspective of getting both guys like if it was a trade straight up for Paul George Kawhi wasn't involved involved yeah they probably did give too much or maybe it's arguable but when you factor in the fact that they probably were not going to get Colli without getting Paul George I think completely changes the way you look at that trade <hes> I if you add Kawhi Leonard to the ledger so I I think what's the bomber and Jerry West were kind of doing and they're sort of role was like let's let's go get the two superstars. Let's go get the two top ten guys you know. The Clippers are saying they think Paul George a top five guy like let's not overcomplicate overcomplicate this yes. It's a lot of assets. Yes you know we we love Shea and think he's GonNa be a future all star but at the same time like why not go all in Fort now like the warriors here's onto warriors <hes> you know we we think we could be the best team in the league. If we execute this trade like why why not you know and I think that was kind of like where Jerry's guidance in he's kind of that's kind of his role with this front office is he's not boots on the ground twelve to fifteen hour days <hes> you know put in the sweat equity woody in the office necessarily but where he is he's like the closer he comes in and you know every move they make he's involved with he's consulted on and he's he's consulting them on and I think you know for him. A lot of it is just being not older wiser guy and kind of providing that guidance of like hey guys like relax you know Oh don't don't worry about the only about five picks the seven picks whatever like let's get this deal done and let's go win championships. Yeah that makes sense <hes> there were multiple reports and you you you just said something interesting that made me kind of think of this. They were a few different reporters saying you know the clippers were out of the running or they were panicking and this was a few days into free agency now obviously Lee turns around and enjoying the clippers they land Paul George but based on your reporting. Do you think those reports were just completely inaccurate or was there actually a period before for the Paul. George Trade was on the table where the clippers were worried that they may not be able to land a second star and that meant no Kawai. What are you kind of when you look at the timetable and housing's servings Kinda played out you know? Do you think there is ever point where the clippers were looking like. They were out of the running or or worried yeah no definitely I think it's a combination combination of things I I do think. It's a bit in the middle where I think some people were just trying to throw stuff out there and kind of get attention right. I do think that you also saw the Lakers like the Lakers. Raptors side of things was a bit more vocal and that's kind of where we got into the code of silence stuff in the story where you know Magic Johnson came out and talked about his free agent meeting with collide before I even started the guide forgotten that it was like you know I'd kind of forgotten the time minded that but when I went back and looked at the tweets of Brad Turner of L._A.. Times who spoke with magic and in tweeted about it that was like two o'clock Pacific time when free agency is he was starting at three o'clock Pacific Time on June thirtieth so an hour before I even started magic Johnson already leaked details of his meeting like very specific details. It's like you know why the Lakers dysfunctional like what's like the five six questions quiet ask them that he threw out there and from that moment I just had a feeling I was like. I don't know if it's going to eliminate the Lakers but like this can't this. There's no way this helped the Lakers and that was something we were able to confirm <hes> from multiple people it was like this did not help the Lakers pitch whatsoever however it didn't necessarily eliminate them like one person we spoke to felt it did eliminate them but you know. I don't think it necessarily eliminated them but I do think that it. There's something upfront <unk> said with every team you know we operate with discretion we operate with privacy. We respect that so we hope that you will operate in the same way okay and respect our wishes and really. I think the clippers were the only team that did that. <hes> you know I think if you look at again the Lakers stuff even some stuff got out a a little bit about their meetings like the raptors it was like he's flying on the private jet and like you know there's rumors that Drake's involved in the meeting and like so like even with the rafters I think not as much stuff got out. What is the Lakers but like a little bit of trickles here and there there's absolutely nothing with the clippers no information about the meeting nothing about it being a doc's house like literally nothing and I think that was a huge advantage for the clippers in this process but I do think and you know we'll never know because you know the clippers claim? They don't know you know what would have happened had they knocked out and Paul George but we do know they got the sense that early in the process we need a second star and and you're they were originally kinda pitching Colli on hey come here sign with us. Believe in US trust us and we will get you that second guy whether that's later in the summer whether that's by the trade deadline like give us some time you know. These things rarely come together quickly. Give us some time to get you that second guy so that was putting out how some feelers for guys like Bradley Beal Jrue holiday even James Harden they were trying to see what guys are available that that you know we the some people might not think are available and that's kind of how it is sometimes like Blake. Griffin was available in twenty eighteen. No one really knew that until the the clippers talked to the Pistons Pistons kind of asked him about it. I and you know that kind of went from there. So from the clippers they got knows on all those guys and none of those three weren't available <hes> and then it's kind of unclear unclear <hes> you know. I don't really know you know we. We've heard multiple things because some people have said you know colliding recruit Paul and some people have said he has is R- you know he did recruit Paul <hes> but it does sound like whether it's official recruitment or not there were conversations prior to <hes> you know aping brought to the clippers attention and from our understanding brought it to the clippers attention of like hey. I've been talking to Paul <hes> you know I I really WanNa play with him and you know if you could get Paul. That's the guy I want and I would commit to you guys if you can get that done so that's when they started talking. Okay see on July third. It was a forty eight hour plus <hes> negotiation kind of unclear when it started on July third but obviously the deal got done by the end of July fifth <hes> <hes> so you started talking to Ok see okay see was open to trading George because he have already expressed discontent a couple of weeks earlier and in the fall a little blindsided by but at the same time it wasn't necessarily like completely out of nowhere like he had already expressing discontent and then they started negotiating and the thunder really used the leverage against the clippers of we know you need to get politics to get Kawais so we're going to extract every single thing we cannot have you will not ended up being <hes> five picks toothpick swaps Danilo Gallinari and Shakeel just Alexander <hes> and so I I do think that you know the clippers were actually she. <hes> from what we heard that were more afraid of the raptors than the Lakers <hes> and you know he went you know he flew back to Toronto which they thought was a really bad. I'd sign Danny Green Sang on the market. They thought was a really bad sign because after they traded for Mohawk list there really was no avenue to get any green so they're kind of like we'll Danny Green's waiting to to decide based on what does that either means. He's going to the raptors or or maybe even the Lakers where he could take a pay cut in play an important role <music> there but like we don't have a spot for Danny Green so like he's not waiting for us so I think there was an element of like you know what's going on trying to read the tea leaves <hes> <hes> but ultimately i. I don't think the clippers wherever necessarily panicking like the way some people put it out there. <hes> there's always a healthy level of concern in uncertainty but I do think that really from the beginning of the process they felt like they clicked with really well that meeting just Kinda seal that and once he came to them with the you know I'm GonNa give you guys some extra time like can you try and get Paul George <hes> that was kind of their sign of like okay. This guy really wants to be here and like that's one I think the confidence Kinda swelled of you know okay so yeah Paul George we could probably get Y and let's go do that. You mentioned Mohawk less. There's been reports also that the clippers talked to Marcus Morris and there there were some discussions about. I've heard that there was the talks about a one year deal and it also talks about the three year deal <hes> I know I think rich Paul even came out and didn't interview and said there. It was a forty one million dollar deal that was kind of being discussed or that was on the table. Can you talk about what happened with Marcus Morris because we all know that he backed out of the Spurs contract and went to the Knicks but there's a lot of uncertainty about the clippers side of things and you know those talks <hes> and I think if you if you add Marcus Morris to this team with his versatility and two way play he fits kind of what we're talking about in terms of the culture and you know he makes that team really really good obviously they're. They're still really good but that's an interesting pick because if they if they could have added him. Do you know what can happen with the Marcus Morris negotiations. I actually don't have a lot of insight into the situation. I know that he was someone on that. They really wanted he was someone that they targeted early in the process. <hes> you know he was one of the first people there were linked to <hes> you. You know I think was literally like June thirtieth July first. It was like you know the companies are interested in Marcus Morris so <hes> but what's funny though is is actually think that worked out for them. <hes> were you know by not getting Marcus. Morris who's really getting Marcus Morris that would have taken away the Mo- heartless money like that Mohawk la spot and potentially even taking some money away to prevent them from getting you know re-signing Visas Zoo bots or Michael Green or you know having the money to pay for Pab like they would have had some other ancillary effect and I think that it actually ended up being a blessing in the sky is like yes so you'd probably rather have Marcus Morris than Mohawk less but you know the the beauty of the Mohawk trade Whether they would have had the you know yeah but theoretically like probably the deal done. Maybe they have to throw in a fourth pick of their own but like that saved them from having to throw throw in that fourth pick and I think if you look at the potential consequences of like you know having Mohawk lous having that extra pick and having Paul George an Colli versus like you know potentially only having Marcus Morris and like you know. Maybe you still get quiet. Maybe you don't or maybe it's clients. I think it ended ended up working out well for them. <hes> but I do know like you said Marcus would have fit perfectly with guys like Michael Green Pat Beverley <hes> he is a two-way guy. He's a a tough hard nosed I player so I think he would have been a great fit and probably would have been starting now on this version of the roster alongside Paul Inqui- but I do think in a weird way kind of actually worked out for them or they got that First Sean pick with moe and then they were able to flip that for Paul. Let's talk about those picks picks that are on the move. It's fi first rounders to them from Miami as you mentioned and to pick swaps now to me that's kind of I mean I I agree with you and I agree with Jerry West that that if you a chance to go get Kawhi Leonard and Paul George you go do it because you know this is obviously the best team they've had in franchise history. You have a chance to be the best team in the N._B._A.. And Win Multiple Championships and it's right around the same time they're opening up an arena which always kind of plays a role in you can definitely sell Kawai and P._G.. Whereas first first round picks as great as they are you can't put butts in seats with draft picks unless their top picks and you know they they become something but I I know there's a lot of fear around the N._B._A.? Whenever you're giving up that many draft picks or pick swaps it's kind of scary because of the experiment doesn't work out you mortgage your future you we looked at the back of the net sell extreme for example and you know they didn't even give up that many draft picks now that was a little bit different because guys like Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce were much older? The window is smaller but then when you look at the fact that y you know and and these guys they they only committed for three years with a player option. Does that kind of introduce them <hes> fear and you know what those contracts were like yes so I I mean and that's something I just kinda mentioned. A little earlier was like front front office was thrilled to give up. You know five picks in to pick swaps like that. You know this has been a very you know in some ways you know they've been very risky. I trading Blake Griffin Trading Tobias Harris but they've also been very risk averse where like they've been very selective with the contracts. They've given out very slow. I mean if you look at a lot of the deals they've signed. They've all been relatively bargain deals. They got <hes> you know. Lou Williams three years twenty four million dollar. That's eight million a year. You Know Mantras Herald two years twelve million six million dollars Algiere like fourteen million dollars for Lou Williams and Mantras hail combined annually is a steel both those guys could easily be making fifteen plus million a year and a and they're making a combined less than fifteen million <hes> the O. J. Michael Green. They just got him back for the room exception. She's a little over five million a year. Pat Beverley took a pay cut to stay so like this is a front office that has been very conservative in some regards with the type of contracts. They've they've done <hes> not trading out picks picks in accumulate assets in pick so like for them to give up. Seven picks was a really big deal like the you know. This is not <hes> we've seen some franchises. <hes> you know maybe like the rockets come to mind but like some other teams like they'll throw out picks just because they're very aggressive. They're very like get this done like that is not how the clippers have operated <hes> over the last couple of years with their front office so it was a really big deal for them to do that and they were really weighing that risk but at the same time the front office really looked at the situation they're like okay. We have Kawhi Leonard who thinks the best player in basketball. We have Paul George who just finished third in M._v._p.. We think is a is a top top five player in basketball. When you factor in both ends of the court we think that the two two guys in the League right now those types of guys are as valuable as is any? I think if you look at a lot of the success golden state has had over the last few years it's because they've had you know guys like Draymond. Andrea Dolla Klay Thompson guys who are effective active on both ends of the Court Kevin Durant of course <hes> and you know the their ability to to impact the game dramatically on both ends really he made Golden State almost unbeatable because it was like they're throwing out three four guys who could switch who could but on the other end they can eat shop twenty points. They could each hit multiple threes. They could each break you down off the dribble pass out the shooter's past you know throw alley oops all different stuff so for the clippers they're like we wanna build something like that. We WanNA build that type type of team and and having to guys like Hawaiian Paul George would allow us to do that now. They looked at twenty twenty free agent. Class is not very good dream on is probably the best player on that class but he might not even hit the market. If he signs an extension with the warriors outside of dream on guys like Markelle Soul Kyle lowry Mike Conley like pretty good players. You know all star level guys but those aren't top fifteen guys you know probably not even top twenty and at that level you're not getting that number one guy that you need to win a championship those guys at this point kind of hitting their early to mid thirties might not even be a number two in the right situation so like the clippers kind of I looked at it like okay so now we're waiting till twenty twenty one and at that point like who knows what what's going to happen I mean Jaanus is is the big prize in in twenty twenty. One Lebron could could hit free agency. <hes> you know there's going to be rudy. Gobert Bradley beal like it is a pretty good free agent class but you're never guaranteed a shot with those guys. is we see it all the time yeah a lot of these guys make up their mind February march April <hes> they decide where they're going and that's kind of where they're going whether that's resigning or going somewhere else so covers covers like at that point we strike on twenty twenty one now or twenty twenty two. Maybe twenty twenty three like one. Are we actually going to go for it. One are we going to cash in these assets and the opportunistic and I think for them they looked at it like we can't really come up with a better potential duo than Kawhi Leonard in Paul George and if we can't have a a better job than those two over the next two three four years. Why would we not go for it right now so I think for them? They just determined like we think Weiner's the best guy in basketball well. He's GonNa be the next you know the best player for next three or four years at least Paul George is going to be in that conversation the next three or four years at least. Let's go get those guys. Let's contend for the next three four or five years and then you know if by the mid twenty twenty is their aging situation isn't great. We don't have our picks like yes that'll suck but if we one one two three championships over that time period I think it'll it'll be worth it so I think that's kind of how they looked at it and valued the risk versus the potential reward now as far as the contracts go <hes> you know there's no promises made because of course that's illegal and <hes> you know people change their mind all the time but you know for <unk> them. You're the new policy situation obviously training for him. He was under contract for two more years <hes> but but for coli <hes> you know quiet has passed up around eighty million dollars leaving San Antonio and leaving Toronto. He's left a lot of money on the table so for him. It's merely a financial play where he's like. I'M GONNA opt out for the the the the tenure Max yet that thirty five percent Max get the eight percent annual raise versus the normal five percent and you know make up some of the money I haven't been making so I think what kind of scared clipper fans and kind of put some doubt out there for fans who are kind of criticizing Oh. They just got quiet for two years. There's any might leave what was because it had originally gotten out earlier agency that you know it was reported that was going to sign a four year deal but if you're if you're a member when when he was announced he signed in the clippers. There's no terms of the deal at that time. It took I think two or three days until shamans broke that it was a two plus one <hes> <hes> you know later in the process so everyone kind of was under the assumption. Oh quite signing a four year deal. That wasn't really the case and you know so. I think the fact that that narrative already gotten out there kind of scared people like wait. I thought he was signing a four-year deal. Why do you sign a two plus one but for him it's merely financial play? Yes there is some kind of power to where he has leverage now over the clippers if he doesn't like how the two years ago or they don't maximize it and do everything they can to appease him. Yes he could leave. Yes Paul George could leave <hes> they. They both could leave and team up somewhere else if they're really playing together <hes> but for the clippers they're confident you know they were talking about Colli for for you know years down the road and they are very confident that one twenty twenty one hits if he does opt out because he could still you know you can still wait till twenty twenty two <hes>. They think he's GonNa Resign. They think he's going to sign. Can you know another long-term deal and expect to have quieted for the next five to six years at least definitely that makes sense. I think there was that initial. Okay why changes mind because there was was that report about him signing longterm deal so that when it came out that he did and people are wondering if something had changed but I think you're I think it's financial. I think all along that was kind of the plan. There is just some you know misinformation out there. Now in your article you mentioned that Steve Bomber started pushing for the Leonard George Pairing as soon as he realized allies that was a possibility and you've been around the team for a while now and you've kind of mentioned some of the things that he's done to change the culture or change the atmosphere around the team. A how much of a role did he play in that where that you know I think you look at him and he just has so much energy and he pumps resources into this organization. You know it's one of those things where I think you realize how big of a difference the owner makes when you go from someone like Donald Sterling to Balmer. Can you kind of speak on the role that he's played in the job. He's done with this organization yeah yeah well. I was actually texting with someone and they hit me with that. Idea of like is Donald Sterling to Steve Bomber the biggest upgrade at any any position in N._B._A.. History and I think it has a chance to be like you know. I mean maybe <hes> I don't know who the Lakers starting center was before they got Kareem. Whatever year that was in the year before maybe that's the biggest upgrade like yawn and all the the biggest <hes> free agents and trades and stuff but <hes> I mean you gotta think like Donald Sterling was you know not only probably the worst owner in the N._B._A.? But maybe the worst owner in professional sports you know in the U._S. and to go to Steve who again is is the wealthiest owner in the in the U._s. and and then I think as clearly showed he's passionate you know he might be the most passionate I mean you see the way he is yelling and standing up games are going crazy like you know he he really loves this but just his competitiveness in. I think the thing that gets lost with Steve is like you know everyone. Everyone looks at kind of the that exterior exterior package of of him you know the developers developers developers hit him going crazy at press conferences him <hes> sticking his tongue out at games him clapping and dancing and going wild like the dude is the nineteenth richest man in the world you know he he is an incredibly brilliant giant like genius level thinker that I think that's kind of what gets lost in all this like. Everyone focuses on the antics and it's Kinda like yes he he is very you know he's hyper. He's high intensity. He's energetic. The dudes also incredibly brilliant and I think you you know what he's really done. Over the last couple of years is I think there there's growing pains and and there's learning curves with any new job any new position <unk> an for for him as an owner. I mean that's a steep learning curve in. I think you kind of figure out over you know year two years three years what type of owner you wanna be how things should be run. You know kind of what your ownership style is and I think for Steve The last couple of years he's really came into his own as an owner and really empower the front office to make certain decisions again like the Blake Griffin Trade Steve was originally against the blaker trade he he did not want to Trade Blake Griffin but ultimately the front office was able to convince him that that was the right move and that you know despite the potential loss in in revenue for the for the team despite the potential loss in season ticket holders and and you know just Jersey sales and merchandise and all that stuff like the spite that it was worth it and that obviously ended up panning out and hitting kind of the best case scenario but I think for Steve He's really you know now what was has just revealed. <hes> a couple of days ago was was the new arena that they're building in Inglewood. <hes> you know the the <hes> it's the Inglewood basketball and and entertainment complex. It's going to be right across the street from the Rams New Stadium and it's GonNa be crazy like <hes> you know basketball record but it's going to have like a mall there with shops and restaurants and it's going to have it's also going to have like a park in you know <hes> outdoor basketball courts is going to have a basketball court inside the arena that fans can play out and shoot at <hes> you know they're gonNA have this wall of sound which is trying to replicate <hes> like European soccer and basketball all where like you have this kind of crazy fan section behind one of the baskets and like it's going to be Steve Said <hes> you know he's trying to make the best basketball venue not only in the N._B._A.. Not only in the U._S. but in the entire world and you know he wants the fan experience you know they're testing like the most comfortable seats and the seat spacing spacing and you know what the optimal amount of toilets for for fans in the in the arena like. They're like they're trying to make it like literally every facing aspect of of even the steps you take in the arena stuff like they're trying to make it the best possible arena really in the world and I I think that you know that what Steve has is the deepest pockets and you know just because you have the pockets doesn't mean you're going to spend doesn't mean you're going to invest in the franchise but they what Steve is is showing is that he's willing to do that and I think that's an attractive thing How to be the type of owner. He wants to be and I think he's become a pretty good owner. I think a couple years ago you probably could've questions some of the move the organization position and made but where they are now the fact that he was able to get doc rivers to take a step down in. You know not fire him. Keep him as coach and not be you know <hes> the president of basketball operations like that to me. It was a huge thing and that really set this in motion of the new front office and the new way of doing things and I think Steve is really come into his own and <hes> I.. I think that should be a scary thing for the rest of the League when a guy who has forty plus billion as kind of figuring this out yeah I agree with you. I mean that is really get talked about enough. The fact that like you said when you have those deep pockets and you're willing to put a ton of it a ton of money into the team. That's a huge difference maker. Ryan Hollins told me that you know he wishes he had been around the clippers. When bomber he wishes bomber had been in charge in owning the team his entire time with the clippers. He basically say 'cause he. He's been around the team still doing on T._v.. And things like that and he was telling me that they were certain perks that in the past the clippers stars may have had you know private training and certain resources but now even the last guy in the roster stor has access to all that stuff so he was kind of really amazed by the differences between you know how things were under sterling versus bomber <hes> one thing that's interesting to you know in in that we kind of eluded this little bit but when you have a guy bomber that's willing to go all in and pay as much money as necessary for things <hes> when you have so many first round picks owed owed to another team and Kawhi P._G.. On the roster you WANNA be aggressive so when you look at where the clippers go from here obviously the roster is very talented as is they're going to be a team that is going to be a contender as long as Hawaiian P._G.. Are there but do you see them continue to be very aggressive. Not only you know on the trade market but in the Bio Al market. I mean you have a you have a huge market in Los Angeles. We've seen so many guys over the years. WanNa be part of a contender in L. A.. Usually it's been the Lakers but do you see this team being really aggressive. I've been kind of going all in moving forward because they have really nothing to lose this point. Yeah no I do and I I think for them. You know someone they. It's been out there that they want. Ah Andre Dolla it does seem like Memphis Lakers are interested. The rockets are said but the C. Mike Memphis is asking price is a bit high hi for you so I don't really see the clippers trading for him. I think you know they I think I think it was one thing to kind of. Go all in on like Colli and Paul George but I do think the front office is is going to continue. I think it'd be more aggressive than than maybe they were in the past but I still think they have that kind of conservative like asset management mindset still I.. I don't think they're going to put all the chips necessarily in the table <hes> unless they really think it's worth it so so for someone like Yugala. I don't know if they're necessarily going to trade for him. I'm doubtful on that but if he hits the free agent market like they're going to go all in to try and get him and they don't have much to offer just the minimum but <hes> if he's willing to come <hes> you know I I know he he'll play a vital role for them and I I think he's someone that really could potentially swing the title race <hes> especially because <hes> you know I think if you look at the rosters I do think that the clippers are deeper than the Lakers and the rockets and if Andrea Agudelo want to either of those two teams. I think he'd be a huge piece that could potentially swing a playoff series against the the clippers if the clippers are facing them so there's almost an element of like kind of preventing your competitors from getting a guy like Andrea Dolla. If you're able to land him I mean I think he'd be huge especially for the Lakers where they don't really have a guy in that like six seven six eight range who who can defend <hes> you know kind of two through four in defending opponents best player like their guys are a little bit smaller like Avery Bradley Casey p <hes> even Danny Green's like six six but like he's a little bit kind of small offer for what you'd want to throw at a at a choir Paul George like Eagle as a legit six seven long arms strong athletic like even though he's getting up there in age age he can still play <hes> you know twenty to twenty five minutes in the playoffs and really help you so. I think that Udall front like that's kind of their thing. They have their eye on again. I don't necessarily see them trading for him but <hes> if he does become available. I know they're going to pursue him. Strongly <hes> outside of that <hes> you know if you want to nitpick the roster which again <hes> you know maybe I'm biased but I do think that one through ten you could put the clippers roster against any roster in the league. I think they probably have the best location in the league and that's why they're you know the Vegas favorites for for a lot of sports books <hes> I think that the two kind of weaknesses they have are you're a third point guard and third center there a little bit light and the Interior <hes> they're a little bit light on ballhandling and kind of <hes> you know judicial show point guard duties now when you have guys like Colli Leonard Paul George Lou Williams. I don't really think offense is going to be a problem like all. Three of those guys have shown naked be primary ball. Handler can run offense. You can run an offense through them. They can isolate they can run pick and roll they can in the case of client. Paul George they can post up so like. I don't think the offensive <unk> is going to be much of a concern and then defensively client Paul George probably the best defensive wing tandem in the League and then you've got <hes> Patrick Beverley and Mohawk lists who's he's a quality defender Rodney mcgruder and on and on so I do think that they eventually need to probably add another big manner ball handler only have thirteen thirteen guys on the roster right now so I do expect them to enter training camp with at least fourteen <hes> but you know that's really guys at the back end of the rotation the Eleventh Demand Twelve Man Thirteenth man for my money. I think joke him. Noah would be a great fit <hes> as as kind of a third big <hes> or Third Center <hes> and I think Jeremy Lin would be you know the the point guard that would really be nice insurance in case anything happens to pat or Lou but outside of that like I I think you're kind of nitpicking if you're looking at the twelfth thirteenth man on a roster like what really matters is ten guys that are GonNa play <hes> and then being healthy than being on the same page and I really do. I think if you look at the clippers starting lineup verse probably have a top three top five starting lineup and then I think they have the best bench lineup in the League bringing back Lou and Trez <hes> adding a guy like Mohawk list and then either having Jer Michael Green or landry. Shamet as that other key piece on the bench like they're absolutely loaded so <hes> I don't. I don't know what else is really out there for them to trade for you know they have give health. Almost all of their future picks so much really they could add through trade but <hes> you know the bio market. There's GonNa be guys come available in January February march and I think they're probably going to be one of the more more attractive destinations because there will be a top team in the West top two top three top four and they're going to have holes at that. Point Garden Center spot so if you're a point guard or center getting bought out I I would look at the clippers probably as as you know. Maybe my top spot so I I do think that was the answer training camp with thirteen fourteen guys or whether looking to add someone later in the season <hes> I I do think they'll probably add one key piece and <hes> I.. I do think they're going to be attractive to buy out guys now. I want to end on this note. <hes> Lee Jink into someone and I'm a huge fan of he's an amazing writer. I Mrs <hes> sports illustrated deep dives where he could just get amazing anecdotes and tell us exactly what's happening behind the scenes. He joined the clippers. I front office as Executive Director of research and identity. I talked Lee a few times but we didn't really Kinda get into what his position entails just being around this team and knowing the front office. Do you have any idea what exactly does for this team. That's the million dollar question I've been asked that so many times by fans on twitter and the athletic comments section like you know I it is a bit of a mystery. There is an element of like <hes> they have have kept it a bit under wraps. I think deliberately but I do know <hes> you know part of what they brought. Leeann <hes> foreign this is something that they've spoken about is just his ability to really like psychoanalyzing and understand people and I think when you read like you're saying like when you read these features he writes he almost comes off as like a borderline psychologist and in some ways and just like his ability ability to understand people and understand you know their their character and what makes them tick and their desires in all that stuff so I know like in a Lotta ways. He is very much like a nother addition to the front office like you know he's in all those meetings <hes> you know he he speaks on certain things gives his advice as input put his guidance his perspective <hes> so in many ways. It was just like you know the the core of the Front Office is Lawrence Frank President of Basketball Operations Michael Winger General General Manager Trent read in mark use the two assistant GM's and then Jerry West the consultant Lee was kind of added to that group as just another other voice another key figure in that front office <hes> but on the free agency front where I think he was important and so vital for them was the guy as written a a pretty much big feature on every star in the League so whether that was you know trying to prepare a pitch for quite Leonard or trying to prepare prepare pitch for <hes> Kevin Durant who obviously made his decision you know prior French even starting <hes> you know but but the guys that they were focusing on especially you know Lee had already interviewed them. You know done stories on them had prior existing relationships with them so I think he was able to kind of provide insight of like you know. This is what you know. This is what I remember about. Why this is what I learned about quite is what I know about Kawai Hi and just helping them sharpen their pitch and kind of what you know the the way they could appeal to sensibilities and I think just overall <hes> Lee he has been an important part of shaping the clippers narrative this last season of <hes> you know just kind of dudes at amazing writer and he has a way with words and just a great perspective on things so I think he's worn multiple hats in that front office done multiple things easy. It's not just it's not like he's cap guy or he's a long-term strategy guy or like you know he he wears multiple hats is involved in different <unk> aspects of the front office but I do think where <hes> you know like if if I was writing a pitch I don't know many other people that you know that I take ahead evli Jenkins for for writing a pitch. You know so <hes> you know he was not to our knowledge. He was not in in the Doc rivers meeting at DOC's house in Malibu Lou on that Monday night but you gotta think yet a huge part in the words that were said in the message that was said from the clippers to Leonard so <hes> <hes> I if anything if just that I think he's had an immense impact on on their communication on their ability to express ideas eight years in a something that Lawrence has talked about talked about it on draft night. Is that Lee just a very smart curious guy and he's someone that you don't not having prior front office experience <hes> a lot of times you know people that have been in the Front Office for five ten fifteen twenty years. You know you have a certain way of viewing things and thinking thing about things and you kind of go through your checklist of questions and thoughts when you know so transaction XS possible. Okay I'm going to run through. These five to ten questions is that this is how I always analyze. Should we do this or should we not do this while Lee comes in and has a different perspective. You know he's he has the writing perspective. He has a journalistic <hes> perspective and he's. GonNa ask different questions than a normal front office executive would like it would almost be like throwing any of us into a meeting with their office like we would have a different perspective. We would view things differently. We would ask different questions so I think you know lease actually living that on a daily basis and I think you know from that into to. He's been a valuable commodity for office where he's pushed. You know he's pushing back on certain things he's asking wait. Why do you think you know why do you think this would be to this. Could it also lead to this and just kind of testing them and pushing back on certain narratives that you know. I think any front office can probably get stuck in where you have a certain way of doing do things and he's Kinda. Come in been that sort of <hes> you know groundbreaking like you know strategist for other angles on stuff so I I do think there is a lot of overall uncertainty like I couldn't <hes> you know necessarily write a an article fully on like what he's doing but from you know from speaking with him from speaking of the front office from from what has been said publicly like that's Kinda my best <hes> view on it is he someone who's helped a lot with pitching with the messaging with the word choice on certain things and then he's also someone that's really challenged the front office and push back on a lot of the things that that they've thought that you know he's viewed differently and I think having a guy like that in front office is really important and <hes> you know would not surprise me if ten fifteen twenty years from now we start to see more and more media people start to move into the front office <hes> even if it's only temporarily yeah that makes sense and I love Lee. He's the nicest guy in the world use one of those those guys that you know he's always helped really young and up and coming writers in you know his super humble so. I'm happy really I'm glad he's in a good spot and <hes> and contributing contributing here. I just was kind of curious and I think I speak for everyone saying thank you for the people like me that love these behind the scenes in-depth articles things were kind of filling that void in writing this amazing one for the athletic do terrific job you and Sam and <hes> and Shawn's also contributing there <hes> again for anyone has checked it out and make sure you go look on the Catholic again. <hes> it's pinned on twitter at you'll von. Buha the articles fantastic <hes> thanks for coming discussing with me yeah man they drive me on you know obviously been following hoops site for years. I've been following you and your work for years so <hes>. I'm glad we were able to link up on this and talk about it and hopefully we can. We can talk about other stuff. Yeah definitely do it again soon. We can this year's going to be exciting. You'RE GONNA have a lot to write about it in L._A.. So I'll definitely take you up on that. We'll have you back on soon. Thank thank you so much those good. If you guys wanted episodes of the hoop site podcast check us out at Itunes stitcher audio boom anywhere your favorite podcast can be found and until next time thanks for listening.

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