Lebron James and Kawhi Leonard star in Los Angeles. Cameron Osburn/Lariat
On Nov. 20, National Basketball Association free agency started, which means teams around the league could sign any player they wanted. As usual, both the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers fought for the same players.
The Battle of Los Angeles was not really a battle in this NBA season. The Lakers and Clippers tied 2-2 in their regular-season games. Both teams saw struggles and success in the postseason.
As we know, the Clippers blew a 3-1 series lead against the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Semifinals. The Lakers however lost five games the entire postseason and went on to win the NBA finals.
Last season, the Clippers won free agency when they acquired superstar Kawhi Leonard and traded for Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George. However, the Lakers completed a blockbuster deal which landed them superstar Anthony Davis.
Coming into this offseason both teams have key players hitting the market. When a team wins the championship it is very rare to see that team get better over the offseason. That is exactly what the Lakers did.
Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka started with a boom in free agency, acquiring Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Dennis Schroder. This is a terrific move by the Lakers as they acquired a pesky defender and an elite scorer off the bench. Having Lebron James on the team is also a plus, considering he has been great at recruiting players ever since he stepped into the league.
They showed no signs of slowing down, as they signed nemesis Montrezl Harrell who put the icing on the cake. With Harrell’s signing, he put the Lakers over the top, and now the Lakers are easily the front runners to win the 2021 NBA championship.
“The Lakers continue to prove why they have not only had a better offseason than the Clippers, nut the whole league,” said Los Angeles Lakers fan Rustin Garabaiti. “Getting two six-man of the year candidates makes our bench easily better than last year.”
The reigning champs have also signed Wesley Matthews, Marc Gasol and Markieff Morris. Even better, they got rid of Danny Green and Javale McGee. They also lost Rajon Rondo and Dwight Howard, who were key pieces to their championship run and are certainly huge losses.
A team that just won the championship should not be improving this much. They got rid of the trash and brought in the treasure. Anthony Davis is also a free agent this offseason but is expected to resign.
On the other side of Staples Center, the Clippers have not had a terrible free agency period themselves. Is it better than the Lakers? No. But it might be just enough to compete with them.
Will I be biased because I am a Clippers fan? Yes. I am also still trying to get over the fact that they blew a 3-1 series lead.
As mentioned earlier, the Clippers lost Harrell, who changed the culture of the team entirely. It still does not change the fact that he is a snake will be hated in the Clippers community.
“Losing the snake Harrell is not a terrible loss,” said Los Angeles Clippers fan Brandon Shukis. “Serge Ibaka will fill in well and can stretch the floor way better than Harrell.”
For the most part, the Clippers re-signed their big name, Marcus Morris. The team also traded for Detroit Pistons guard, Luke Kennard, as well as three second-round picks. Trading for Kennard is a severely underrated move by general manager Lawarence Frank, who acquires a much-needed ball-handler and scorer.
Although the team lost Harrell and JaMychal Green, they acquired one of Leonard’s best friends Serge Ibaka. They got a better version of Harrell.
The Clippers also drafted Daniel Oturu in the 2020 NBA draft out of Minnesota, who averaged 20 points and ten rebounds in college per game. Other than this, they have not made any other moves to match with the Lakers.
Unless Leonard turns into God himself, the Clippers’ chances of winning the championship in 2021 are slim to none. Meanwhile, the Lakers are already looking forward to repeating as champions as they have already won free agency.