Newsletter: The Sports Report: Clippers put themselves in national spotlight with Kawhi Leonard-Paul George deals
Howdy, my name is Houston Mitchell and I hope everyone is making it through these earthquakes as safely as possible.
Who decides at 11 p.m. on a Friday night of a major holiday weekend to announce where he is going to play next season? Kawhi Leonard does. And the Clippers are fine with it.
Leonard, who led the Toronto Raptors to the NBA title last season, agreed to a four-year, $142-million deal with the Clippers. And he’s going to have some help, because in a move that shocked the NBA, the Clippers also announced they are acquiring Paul George from Oklahoma City. They gave up quite a haul to get George: forward Danilo Gallinari, point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, four unprotected first-round draft picks, a protected first-round pick and two pick swaps.
Oddsmakers immediately made the Clippers the favorite to win the Western Conference title.
What made Leonard decide on the Clippers? Looks like it was a strong pitch from Doc Rivers. How much was Jerry West involved? Don’t know yet, but Rivers may not have needed any help.
And now, Leonard gets to try to create a legacy no one has: The guy who led the Clippers to the NBA title.
So now, in one corner of the Staples Center, you have Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. In the other, you have LeBron James and Anthony Davis. All eyes will be on Los Angeles when the NBA season starts in October. Let the games begin.
Bill Plaschke: Fasten your seat belts, Clippers are joining the elite
After learning they lost out on Leonard, the Lakers sprung into action and secured former Raptors wing Danny Green on a two-year deal worth $30 million and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope on a two-year deal worth $16 million.
The Lakers also signed Quinn Cook, Javale McGee and DeMarcus Cousins on Saturday morning. The Lakers agreed to a one-year deal with Cousins, who spent last season on a one-year contract with the Golden State Warriors as he recovered from an Achilles tear he sustained the year before. Cousins didn’t play until mid-January and started in all 30 games he played for the Warriors. Cousins also missed a significant portion of the playoffs this spring with a torn quadriceps muscle. The Lakers agreed to a two-year, $6-million deal with Cook while McGee will get a two-year contract for $8.5 million.
They’ll join LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kyle Kuzma, Troy Daniels, Jared Dudley and second-round draft pick Talen Horton-Tucker on the Lakers’ roster.
Of course, while waiting for Leonard, many players they could have targeted signed with other teams.
You have to wonder how much Magic Johnson’s ugly departure from the team played into Leonard’s decision. I mean, when the most prominent player in team history says the current GM is a back-stabber, that has to make you think twice about going there, doesn’t it?
Dodgers reporter Jorge Castillo was in Dodger Stadium when the 7.1 earthquake hit Friday night. Here’s his report:
“Dodger Stadium started shaking in the bottom of the fourth inning Friday night. It was around 8:21 p.m. The foul poles swayed. The broadcast cameras bobbed up and down. Within a few seconds, the thousands in attendance realized what was happening. It was another earthquake, the second in the region in two days. People in the upper deck scrambled, but most fans stayed put as the ballpark shook for nearly a minute.
“Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen was on a couch in the team’s clubhouse when the Earth began trembling.
“I thought I was trippin’ for a second,” Jansen said. “I thought, ‘Am I trippin’ or am I getting sick or something?’ I ran into the training room [and asked], ‘Did y’all feel same thing I’m feeling?’ Next thing you know you see everything is shaking. Definitely not a fun moment.”
“Alex Verdugo and Austin Barnes were both in the Dodgers’ dugout and felt the tremors. Verdugo said third-base coach Dino Ebel, who was on the field, alerted him. That’s when he felt the dugout rail move.
“Not scary. It’s an earthquake,” Verdugo said. “Nothing I can do it about it. It’s happening so whatever happens, happens….I can’t tell the Earth to stop moving.”
“On the field, Kiké Hernandez was in the batter’s box facing San Diego Padres left-hander Eric Lauer. He didn’t notice anything unusual. Nobody on the field seemed to feel the shaking. The game proceeded as normal.
“How are they continuing to play baseball?” Dodgers play-by-play announcer Joe Davis wondered.
“I don’t understand how the players can’t feel it,” Orel Hershiser, the team’s color analyst, said.
“Lauer threw three pitches through the temblors, which were apparent during the broadcast as the cameras quivered for the quake’s duration. The first was a ball. Hernandez took the second for a strike. Hernandez fouled the third down the third-base line before stepping away, briefly pausing the game when he noticed the ruckus. He was confused and didn’t realize there was an earthquake until the ballboy bringing balls to the home-plate umpire during the at-bat told him what happened.
“After a moment, he was back at the plate. He fouled off the next two pitches. He flied out to left field to conclude the at-bat and the inning with the Dodgers trailing 2-1. As the quake tapered off, Dodger Stadium organist Dieter Ruehle started playing Carole King’s “I Feel the Earth Move.”
“No hits, no runs, one earthquake,” Davis said as the broadcast went to commercial break.
“I’ve lived in Southern California,” said Barnes, a Riverside native. “I haven’t felt earthquakes like that ever, especially that long. Never.”
The biggest story outside of the NBA and earthquakes may be in tennis, where 15-year-old Coco Gauff continued her improbable Wimbledon run.
Gauff, of Delray Beach, Fla., received a taste of the rock-star treatment Friday, getting a standing ovation from the capacity crowd at Centre Court after her 3-6, 7-6 (7), 7-5 victory over Slovenia’s Polona Hercog.
It was Gauff’s first appearance on that storied stage, having pulled off stunning upsets of Venus Williams and Magdalena Rybarikova on Court 1 earlier in the week.
“When I was walking on the court, I kind of wasn’t nervous, but was I just like, ‘Wow, I’m really on Centre Court, one of the most sacred courts in the world,’ ” said Gauff, the youngest woman to win a match at Wimbledon since Jennifer Capriati — then a younger 15 — in 1991.
“I just feel relieved that it’s over,” said Gauff, who will play former No. 1 Simona Halep in the fourth round Monday. “My parents are just telling me to stay calm, stay focused, because the tournament is not over yet. That’s why I’ve been kind of celebrating the night after the matches, then the next day back to practice.”
Her victory Friday assured her of $220,000 in prize money.
“The most unexpected message I received? Well, it wasn’t really a message,” Gauff said. “Miss Tina Knowles, Beyonce’s mom, posted me on Instagram. I hope Beyonce saw that. I hope she told her daughter about me, because I would love to go to a concert.”
Women’s World Cup
Saturday’s result (third-place game)
Sweden 2, England 1
Today’s schedule (Final)
U.S. vs. Netherlands, 8 a.m., Fox
World Cup poll
After Tuesday’s victory, a lot of people on social media complained about Alex Morgan and her “cup of tea” celebration after her goal. And, to be fair, a lot of people thought it was great. There were also complaints after the U.S. defeated Thailand, 13-0, in their opening match that the U.S. women are being less-than-gracious this World Cup. What do you think. are the U.S. women arrogant, or just having fun? Click here to vote in our poll, or email me and let me know.
Your favorite sports moment
Something new to open up this newsletter and make it more reader interactive: What is your favorite all-time L.A. sports moment? Click here to tell me what it is and why, and I’ll start running them in future newsletters. And yes, if your favorite moment is about the Angels or Ducks or a team just outside of L.A., I’ll count that too. And the moment doesn’t have to have happened in L.A., just needs to involve an area team.
Odds and ends
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