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Sixers’ All-Star Teases Raptors Team Up With Former Teammate

Philadelphia 76ers guard Paul George (13), Los Angeles Clippers forward Norman Powell (24) and forward Kawhi Leonard (2), who could have been Toronto Raptors

Philadelphia 76ers swingman Paul George dropped a bombshell in the latest episode of Podcast P with Paul George. A man with no qualms about changing teams, the nine-time All-Star reveals that he nearly signed with the Toronto Raptors to join now former teammate Kawhi Leonard after his championship run. Interestingly, the Raptors were considered the favorites to sign Leonard at the time.

Of course, the duo ultimately signed with the Los Angeles Clippers, where they played together for five seasons.

“So after Toronto wins, right, Kawhi and win it, I text Kawhi, ‘Congrats, bro.’

I think he ended up calling me right after: ‘What you gonna do?’

‘What you mean?,’” George asks.

‘Like, what you gonna do?’ ‘Like, you comfortable there? You good there?’,” Leonard follows up.

“I’m like, ‘Yeah, bro, I just re-signed. We gonna try to do this s*** next year.’,” George says.

‘Like, nah, I hear people trying to get out of there,” Leonard retorts.

‘Let me call you back,’ George responded.

“That was the initial start of that conversation.”

“Then me and him was just working on ‘how can we make this happen.’”

“I was close to going to Toronto,” George continues. “We were deciding to go to Toronto or to Clippers. Ultimately, the Clippers put something better… a better trade package that sent me to L.A., but I was close.

He was going to re-sign to Toronto, and we were going to go to Toronto. That was the origin and beginning of that story, and it was just a whirlwind of how it played out.”

Sixers’ All-Star Teases Raptors Team Up With Former Teammate

If George had signed with the Raptors in 2019, joining Leonard, the ripple effect would’ve been enormous.

A Multiverse of Madness

The Pacific Division would have of course been much different if the Clippers never landed George and Durant. They may have signed Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, or both. Had they not, Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks may have reached the NBA Finals long before this year.

If that happened, they may have never felt inclined to trade for Irving. In fact, they may have decided one or both of Jalen Brunson and Kristaps Porzingis were worth keeping. That puts the future of the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics —the latter now the reigning NBA champions —in question. The Knicks’ case is titillating, because if they never sign Brunson, they might’ve still been chasing Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell.

The Celtics may have found themselves facing the Raptors themselves in the playoffs. As Toronto’s roster may have still had some combination of Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, and Pascal Siakam supporting the star duo of George and Leonard, the Raptors may have been the ones lifting the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

All of that brings to question the future of the Houston Rockets and Indiana Pacers, who benefited from their acquisitions of VanVleet and Siakam, respectively. For a while, the Knicks were seemingly invincible with Anunoby. As Scottie Barnes was only drafted because Toronto struggled in the wake of Leonard’s departure, his destiny would’ve changed as well.

Then again, with the injury history of George and Leonard as well as the restrictions imposed by the CBA, the Raptors’ fate may have resembled the Clippers.

Ultimately, the duo of George and Leonard proved to be fool’s gold. Though they’re two of the most talented players in NBA history, they’re simply not durable enough. Yet, because of their salary demands, VanVleet, Anunoby, or Siakam may have been squeezed out of Toronto’s wallet.

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