Sources: Kawhi Leonard agrees to sign with Clippers

 

Not even a championship was enough to keep Kawhi Leonard in Canada.

Free-agent forward Kawhi Leonard has agreed to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Leonard’s decision was followed by another huge wave of news: The Clippers also reportedly agreed to a deal for Oklahoma City’s Paul George, giving Leonard a star partner with whom to pursue a title.

Leonard is coming off an all-time NBA playoff run that saw him lead the Toronto Raptors to Canada’s first NBA title.

A Southern California native who played college ball at San Diego State, Leonard will get a massive payday while looking to lead a third team to an NBA championship.

His arrival marks a new era of basketball not only with the Clippers, but in Los Angeles, as Leonard will share an arena and the spotlight with the rival Lakers, who will also feature a pair of megastars in LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

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Kawhi Leonard sinks Game 7-winning buzzer beater
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Kawhi Leonard sinks Game 7-winning buzzer beater
TORONTO, ON - MAY 12: Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) watches from the corner as Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard (2) squats down and sticks out his tongue waiting for the ball to drop for Raptors to win. Toronto Raptors guard Jordan Loyd (8) (in cities) starts the celebration. Toronto Raptors vs Philadelphia 76ers in2nd half action of Round 2, Game 7 of NBA playoff play at Scotiabank Arena. . Toronto Star/Rick Madonik (Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard (2) and teammates watch as the ball bounces around the rim as time begins to expire in an NBA Eastern Conference semifinal basketball game, in Toronto, Sunday, May 12, 2019. Leonard hit the game-winning basket as time expired, and the Toronto Raptors advanced to the Eastern Conference Final by beating the Philadelphia 76ers 92-90. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard, center, reacts with teammates after making the game-winning shot as Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) walks away at the end of an NBA Eastern Conference semifinal basketball game, in Toronto, Sunday, May 12, 2019. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)
Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard, second from left, celebrates his game-winning basket as time expired at the end of an NBA Eastern Conference semifinal basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, in Toronto on Sunday, May 12, 2019. Toronto won 92-90. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard, center, celebrates his game-winning basket as time expired at the end of an NBA Eastern Conference semifinal basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, in Toronto on Sunday, May 12, 2019. Toronto won 92-90. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
El alero de los Raptors de Toronto Kawhi Leonard, centro, celebra su tiro ganador al término del partido de la NBA contra los 76ers de Filadelfia, el domingo 12 de mayo de 2019, en Toronto. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
TORONTO, ON - MAY 12: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the Toronto Raptors celebrates with teammates after sinking a buzzer beater to win Game Seven of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs against the Philadelphia 76ers at Scotiabank Arena on May 12, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. 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. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - MAY 12: Kawhi Leonard #2 (R) of the Toronto Raptors speaks with Kyle Lowry #7 after sinking a buzzer beater to win Game Seven of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs against the Philadelphia 76ers at Scotiabank Arena on May 12, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. 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. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - MAY 12: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the Toronto Raptors leaves the court after sinking a buzzer beater to win Game Seven of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs against the Philadelphia 76ers at Scotiabank Arena on May 12, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. 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. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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George, also a California native, was an NBA MVP finalist this past season after averaging 28 points, 8.2 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 2.2 steals. It was a major coup for the Thunder in the summer of 2018, when he agreed to re-sign on the first day of free agency instead of exploring other options.

For the Raptors, it’s a disappointing turn on the heels of winning a championship.

But when general manager Masai Ujiri dealt franchise cornerstone DeMar DeRozan to the San Antonio Spurs last summer for the package that featured Leonard, it was understood Toronto might be doing so for a one-year rental. That he delivered a championship was more than enough reward for the risk of the deal.

A three-time All-NBA player, two-time Finals MVP and two-time Defensive Player of the Year, Leonard was the clear-cut top prize of the free-agency market after Kevin Durant suffered an Achilles tear in Game 5 of the Finals.

Coming off an injury-shortened season that saw him sit all but nine games in 2017-18 with a mysterious quad injury that led to his eventual split with the Spurs, Leonard returned to the court in Toronto for his best season as a pro.

He averaged a career-high 26.6 points and 7.3 rebounds in the regular season along with 3.3 assists and 1.8 steals while shooting 49.6 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from 3-point range.

During his playoff run that included one of the greatest shots in NBA history to sink the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, Leonard stepped up his game, posting averages of 30.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.7 steals.

Concerns lingered in 2018 how Leonard would return from an injury that cost him most of his final season with the Spurs.

Having eased those concerns and now sitting in the midst of his prime at 28 years old, Leonard’s only basketball worry now is furthering his standing in the pantheon of NBA greats and pursuing more titles.

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