Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant

USA Today

LeBron and Magic vs. Ballmer and West

The winner could potentially tilt the entire Western Conference.

December 13, 2018 - 12:40 pm

Somewhere right in the middle of the way-too-early Western Conference playoff picture is the Los Angeles Clippers. That’s right. The 17-10 Los Angeles Clippers. The same squad who traded away Blake Griffin and Chris Paul and then let DeAndre Jordan walk, all in a span of 12 months. The same squad who’s front office is more name famous than their starting five.

Steve Ballmer, Jerry West, Lawrence Frank, Lee Jenkins, Doc Rivers…

Yeah, those five dudes are working a plan. A very, very transparent plan. A plan that Brian Windhorst detailed in a piece for ESPN yesterday. 

You’d think a team that completely moved on from their big three and then demoted Doc Rivers and stripped him of every title except head coach would be absolutely tail spinning right now. But that’s not the case at all here. Not only are the Clippers are playing some of their best and most surprising basketball in that last few years—but they are openly and aggressively pursuing not just Kawhi Leonard—but Kevin Durant, too. 

And getting rid of Chris and Blake and DJ has made that a very real possibility because now they have two max contract spots available to offer this summer.

None of this should be surprising. At all. Steve Ballmer didn’t stroke a check for 2 bill—with a b—to get curb stomped by the Warriors and tank into a five-year-rebuild hoping to wait them out. So he’s not gonna do that. Instead—he’s moving out of STAPLES and into a brand new arena down in Inglewood at the Stan Kroenke complex. And he’s pushing all his chips in the middle trying to bring a championship caliber team to that new building.

Part of Windy’s report is the absolutely amazing nugget that the Clippers have sent members of their organization to watch 75% of Kawhi’s games. Just to be visible. Just so he knows they’re there. And they’re interested. Windy also reported that Lawrence Frank has attended Raptors games that didn’t involve the Clippers. And for a team president to go to games that his teams aren’t playing in is unheard of. 

By the All-Star Break the Clippers will have a boombox above their head blaring Peter Gabriel at Scotibank Arena.

We knew the Clippers wanted Kawhi. We just didn’t know how bad and how they were going about it. But it makes sense. Because Jerry West was brought in to recruit. And this is why you pay the man. To get Kawhi. And apparently—this is why you pay our buddy Lee Jenkins. Because Windy says a huge part of Lee Jenkins' new role with the team is coming up with a pitch for these guys. 

So the Clippers aren’t waiting for anybody. They’re straight up stalking Kawhi and they want Durant, too. And we’ve all read the reports that Kawhi would rather play for the Clippers than the Lakers. And we all heard Durant say last week that the fanboy media has created a toxic environment around LeBron. So hell yes the Clippers are gonna move in. And they should. 

But that doesn't mean the Lakers are gonna lay down. And this summer is shaping up to be LeBron and Magic vs. Steve Ballmer and Jerry West. And the winner could potentially tilt the entire Western Conference in their favor. 

And with the stakes that high--no one is gonna give an inch on either side. And I personally cannot wait until Earv and Ballmer turn this summer into a month long episode of billionaire shark tank.

Let's just hope the Lakers have something better than billboards and that the Clippers have something better than a fake jersey retirement.