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Doc Rivers Reveals Recruiting Pitch to Land Kawhi Leonard with Clippers

Megan ArmstrongAnalyst IAugust 4, 2019

(FromR) Clippers owner Steve Ballmer, US basketball players Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, Clippers coach Doc Rivers and Clippers President of Basketball Operations Lawrence Frank pose during the introduction of Leonard and George as the new players of the Los Angeles Clippers during a press conference in Los Angeles on July 24, 2019. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP)        (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
FREDERIC J. BROWN/Getty Images

Why so serious?

Well, if you ask Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers, being serious will help you land reigning NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard.

In a story published Sunday by Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times, Rivers discussed his free-agency pitch:

"All the other stuff that people think matters in the recruitment, I don't think Kawhi wanted to talk about that, so I didn't. I talked about winning and basketball. Kawhi is a serious man, and I think you felt that with him. I think he felt the seriousness of me and how serious I am about winning, and he felt good about that match."

Rivers also said he "can draw upon" his experience as head coach of the Orlando Magic in the early 2000s, specifically leading the team's efforts in landing Grant Hill and Tracy McGrady in 2000.

"I guess the difference this time is I knew the league more. I knew me more," Rivers said. "I had a body of work. The time with Tim [Duncan, who re-signed with the San Antonio Spurs in 2000] and Grant and Tracy, I'd coached one year. I really didn't have a body of work, so I think my body of work played in my favor this time."

Leonard eventually signed a four-year, $141 million deal with the Clippers. The 28-year-old two-time NBA champion's move to L.A. was contingent on the Clippers successfully trading for Paul George, which they did by sending the Oklahoma City Thunder five first-round picks, Danilo Gallinari and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

The Clippers are searching for their first title in franchise history—a feat Leonard has experience in accomplishing, as he just led the Toronto Raptors to theirs last season and previously won the 2013-14 title with San Antonio.

Rivers won the 2007-08 title with the Boston Celtics, and now, with the addition of two perennial All-Stars, the 57-year-old has positioned the Clippers as one of the favorites to win the 2019-20 championship (+400, per Caesars).

Prior to his successful recruitment tactics, Rivers built the Clippers roster into an overachiever last season, as the team made the postseason at 48-34 without a true No. 1 option after trading away Tobias Harris in February.