Paul George Says He ‘Wanted’ 2017 Trade to Spurs to Team Up with Kawhi Leonard

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Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul George says the San Antonio Spurs were his top choice when he requested a trade from the Indiana Pacers in 2017 because he wanted to play with current Clippers teammate Kawhi Leonard.

George told ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk in an interview released Wednesday he preferred the Spurs to the Los Angeles Lakers, the most speculated landing spot before he was eventually traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, but the sides weren’t able to reach an agreement.

“I wanted to be traded to San Antonio,” he said. “We wanted to go to San Antonio first, and we didn’t make that happen.”

Youngmisuk reported the Spurs discussed a deal with the Pacers but “lacked the assets” to acquire one of the NBA’s best two-way players.

George also said the Lakers’ unwillingness to go all-in to acquire him in 2017 was a lingering factor when he hit the open market last year.

“As far as the Lakers, I wanted to go to L.A.,” he said. “They didn’t make that happen. They didn’t put nothing together. So that’s in the back of my mind [when I became a free agent]. That was in the back of my mind.”

George re-signed with OKC in 2018 but was traded to the Clippers in July in coordination with the team’s free-agent addition of Leonard.

“We met up and we talked,” George told Youngmisuk about a conversation with the reigning NBA Finals MVP in July. “Before the trade, [even] before everything was in talks.”

The blockbuster moves transformed the Clippers from a playoff hopeful into a championship contender. Caesars Sportsbook lists the Clips with the second-best 2020 title odds (+350; bet $100 to win $350) behind only the rival Lakers (+250), led by their own superstar duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

George’s Clippers debut was delayed until last week after he went offseason surgery on both shoulders. He’s looked no worse for wear, averaging 29.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists in his first three games.

The six-time All-Star is still waiting to play alongside Leonard, who’s been sidelined for the past three contests with a knee injury. Their next chance will come Wednesday when L.A. takes on the Boston Celtics.

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