Clippers’ Jerry West recounts Paul George trade, says hardest part was losing Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari
Los Angeles Clippers advisor Jerry West recounted how he first found out about the Paul George trade, a major offseason move that kept most front office staff on their toes with anticipation. The deal would signify a make-or-break for the Clippers’ future, as getting George would mean getting Kawhi Leonard to come as well even at the price of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari.
“Well, the night before I’d had a few calls from Lawrence [Frank] and also from Steve [Ballmer] – about three or four,” West recounted to Sam Amick of The Athletic. “The demands from Oklahoma City were pretty strong, and I just felt that it was in our best interest to go ahead and (do the deal). Everybody talks about all the draft picks we gave away. Well, we did give a lot of draft picks away. But two of them were not ours – period, ok? Not ours.
“So at the end of the day, we gave up three of our draft picks and a terrific young player in Shai, who I think we all feel horrible about. And Gallo (Gallinari), who is a very good player himself. Those are the difficult things, letting players go who you really like.”
West went on to praise Gilgeous-Alexander as a future All-Star in the game, noting he will improve even more over time. The hall of Famer admitted the price for George was steep, but one well worth it, given the talent at both ends of the floor.
“…But we have two finished products right in the prime of their careers (in Leonard and George) – or just getting in the prime of their careers. Two of them who have the same DNA – great offensive players, but more importantly really great defensive players. And I’m not talking about good defensive players, I’m talking about great defensive players. Those players decide games on both ends of the floor.
And as I say, if I’m the opposing coach and I sit there looking at these two guys, I say, ‘Oh God, well who’s going to guard this guy? Well, who’s going to guard the other one?’ That makes you feel pretty good if you’re Doc, I’m sure, and it makes you feel pretty good as an organization to have two players of that caliber.”
The Clippers don’t have one, but two double-edged swords to deploy in their lineup — and both of them are young enough to trot out some consistent performances for several years. LA gave an NBA-record five first-round picks for George, but considering that also opened up the possibility of getting Leonard, it was well worth every one of those future selections.