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In 2018, Paul George re-signed with the Thunder and celebrated at a Russell Westbrook-hosted party. A year later, George – his relationship with Westbrook reportedly at least somewhat soured – requested and received a trade to join freshly signing Kawhi Leonard on the Clippers.
Maybe Leonard – searching for a co-star – pushed a wedge between the Oklahoma City teammates.
Westbrook had become a father of three the previous November, and while he’d made a home and carved a Hall of Fame legacy in Oklahoma City, the chance to live and play in Los Angeles, where grandparents and his large extended family and friends could visit every day, held deep appeal.
Teaming up with Leonard would be the fastest way there, so he placed the call, according to multiple sources. But Leonard didn’t just take the call as one native son of Los Angeles to another, ponder it and file it away.
He used it.
According to multiple sources, Leonard then called Westbrook’s teammate in Oklahoma City, Paul George, and told him he’d rather team up with him on a homecoming.
George had always longed to play in front of his family as well but had formed a close bond with Westbrook in their two seasons together in Oklahoma City and was content to stay.
Leonard’s call upended all of that, though.
Westbrook eventually got what he wanted – a ticket out of Oklahoma City with minimal backlash despite building his image as the loyal star after Kevin Durant‘s departure. George obviously got his desired move, too.
So, I wonder whether there’s any degree of just trying to scapegoat Leonard or Westbrook for breaking up the Thunder.