Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

Report: Russell Westbrook asked Kawhi Leonard in 2019 about Clippers team-up, which Leonard used to lure Paul George

Kawhi Leonard and Russell Westbrook

CHARLOTTE, NC - FEBRUARY 16: Kawhi Leonard #2 of Team LeBron and Russell Westbrook #0 of Team Giannis smile and laugh in the locker room before the 2019 NBA All-Star Practice and Media Availability on February 16, 2019 at Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

In 2018, Paul George re-signed with the Thunder and celebrated at a Russell Westbrook-hosted party. A year later, George – his relationship with Westbrook reportedly at least somewhat soured – requested and received a trade to join freshly signing Kawhi Leonard on the Clippers.

What changed?

Maybe Leonard – searching for a co-star – pushed a wedge between the Oklahoma City teammates.

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

Westbrook had become a father of three the previous November, and while he’d made a home and carved a Hall of Fame legacy in Oklahoma City, the chance to live and play in Los Angeles, where grandparents and his large extended family and friends could visit every day, held deep appeal.

Teaming up with Leonard would be the fastest way there, so he placed the call, according to multiple sources. But Leonard didn’t just take the call as one native son of Los Angeles to another, ponder it and file it away.

He used it.

According to multiple sources, Leonard then called Westbrook’s teammate in Oklahoma City, Paul George, and told him he’d rather team up with him on a homecoming.

George had always longed to play in front of his family as well but had formed a close bond with Westbrook in their two seasons together in Oklahoma City and was content to stay.

Leonard’s call upended all of that, though.

Westbrook eventually got what he wanted – a ticket out of Oklahoma City with minimal backlash despite building his image as the loyal star after Kevin Durant’s departure. George obviously got his desired move, too.

So, I wonder whether there’s any degree of just trying to scapegoat Leonard or Westbrook for breaking up the Thunder.

But if Westbrook – who’s finally getting to Los Angeles – at all resents Leonard, Westbrook will fit right in with Lakers partisans.