The Los Angeles Clippers believed they could layer superstar newcomers Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to a core that was the eighth seed in 2019, but the team had chemistry issues on and off the court throughout the 19-20 season.
“How do you ever build a strong team with that [expletive] going on?” one team source said. “I thought from the beginning, ‘We’re doomed. Kawhi wants too much special treatment.’”
According to multiple sources, the Clippers have Leonard and George perks to the level to compromise the standard of culture they had built over the previous two seasons.
Leonard and George had power over the team’s practice and travel schedule, leading teammates to believe Leonard canceled multiple practices.
Leonard was allowed to live in San Diego and commute from there, which made him late for team flights.
While many of the Clippers had a level of acceptance for Leonard's preferential treatment as a two-time Finals MVP, sources say the benefits George received was more of an issue. There was a sentiment among certain teammates of, “What have you accomplished in the playoffs?” multiple league sources said.
Leonard and George didn't bond with their teammates, which could have helped the situation. Leonard oftentimes was hanging out with close friend and Clippers assistant coach Jeremy Castleberry. George mostly stuck with Reggie Jackson and Patrick Patterson.
The Clippers hired Tyronn Lue, at least in part, due to his ability to hold star players accountable. Sources say Lue will look to push Leonard and George to forgo certain requests or standards to set an example for their teammates.