Trades are quite common in the sports industry with athletes switching from one team to another for a better deal or career prospects. However, not all of them make it to the news.
While trades happen all the time, some of them involve big names that are so surprising that they often make headlines.
We are talking about powerful names in the biz who must make the difficult choice between sticking with their current team and joining a new one depending on contract terms and future opportunities.
Recently, it was free agent and fan-favorite Kawhi Leonard who came face to face with a very tough dilemma. What will he choose?
There were some eyebrow-raising and unexpected moves at the start of the 2019 free agency but perhaps, none is bigger than Kawhi’s decision to sign with Los Angeles Clippers instead of Los Angeles Lakers, much to the shock of the fans and players.
This clearly rocked the pendulum of power and surely stirred controversy, as well as zoomed in even more on the rivalry of the two teams.
A lot of people think that Kawhi is going to become instrumental for Lakers to win the next NBA championship, alongside the team’s LeBron James and the newly acquired basketball superstar Anthony Davis.
Interestingly, a $10,000-bet was placed on the team to nab the 2020 title, which heightened speculations that the humble and down-to-earth athlete is going to wear a purple and gold uniform sometime in the near future.
Signs Leading to the Decision
The bet, which was placed at Westgate Las Vegas Superbook, was a lot like the $10,000 one for Anthony last month, just minutes before it was announced that the Lakers were acquiring the former New Orleans Pelicans player.
So with Kawhi’s case, people were anticipating that the 28-year-old will hop on the team as well after an unknown bettor did the same.
An official of Westgate then explained that the bettor had some knowledge about what was going on behind the scenes. At the time, hopefuls were crossing their fingers that it would be a done deal.
Prior to this, another telling sign that Kawhi was bound to sign a contract with Lakers was LeBron’s cryptic tweet that showed he changed his jersey number, which left fans speculating that the 34-year-old is welcoming the former Toronto Raptors player into the team.
It was one of the most-awaited decisions and by the time June 30 came (NBA fans know this was the opening of the negotiation period), the big fish in the sea were already caught.
Interestingly, there is a pretty good conspiracy theory surrounding the delay in the announcement of Kawhi’s decision.
The athlete and Clippers allegedly waited a little longer until the star made his choice so that Lakers were left with a few options by the time he made up his mind and all the top-notch agents were already taken.
To support the claim, theorists started putting puzzle pieces together. Jerry West, who is a consultant for Clippers, was a Lakers player during his heyday and was actually a Hall of Famer, while Ryan, his son, is the director of player personnel for Lakers. Although intriguing, fans should take this with loads of salt, needless to say.