NBA free agency moves: Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Kevin Durant

Kawhi Leonard and Paul George
George (left) is a six-time NBA All-Star, while Leonard (right) is

Kawhi Leonard left reigning NBA champions the Toronto Raptors just three weeks after winning the title in the most dramatic move of the NBA free agency.

On Saturday, during what is the NBA's equivalent of football's transfer window, Leonard joined the Los Angeles Clippers alongside Paul George, who was traded from the Oklahoma City Thunder.

That immediately saw the Clippers tipped for next season's title.

But they weren't the only major moves this summer. Here's a breakdown of the biggest deals in the league.

Clippers sign Leonard & George

Leonard has just proved he can turn a decent team into a title winner in Toronto and the Clippers have long been a suitor for the reigning finals MVP's services, but no-one saw this happening the way it did.

The Clippers started the week with enough room in the salary cap to sign two superstars, but when everyone else was snapped up in the space of a few hours last Sunday night, conventional wisdom was that Leonard would either link up with LeBron James and the newly-acquired Anthony Davis at the Los Angeles Lakers, or stay in Toronto to defend the title.

Instead, it was being reported Leonard told the Clippers if they could prise All-Star forward Paul George away from the Thunder, he was in.

The Clippers had to give up an unprecedented amount to make it happen - five first-round draft picks over the next seven years, plus one of their top scorers last season in Danilo Gallinari, and their best young prospect in Shai-Gilgeous Alexander. Leonard then agreed to a four-year £113m deal.

The significance of Leonard having the option to join the Lakers and James, and instead choosing to go up against them - in the Staples Center, the arena the two teams share - is hard to overstate. For the majority of their existence the Clippers have been a punchline in Los Angeles.

With Leonard and George, they'll be one of the favourites for the NBA title, and have set up a city rivalry the likes of which the NBA has never seen before.

Hollywood, grab the popcorn.

Nets sign Durant and Irving

Kevin Durant
Durant ruptured his Achilles in his final appearance for the Warriors last month

Kevin Durant leaves the Golden State Warriors with two championship rings and a torn Achilles tendon for his trouble - an injury sustained in the NBA finals against Toronto last month that will likely cost him the entirety of next season.

That didn't stop the Brooklyn Nets giving the 30-year-old a four-year deal for £130m.

He was so beloved by Golden State that their owner announced that, despite spending just three seasons there, they will retire his number 35 jersey.

When he joined the Warriors in 2016 they were already a dominant, title-winning team. Now, he joins a franchise still searching for an identity since moving from New Jersey to Brooklyn in 2012. A franchise, who - at least in terms of glamour if not success - are the 'other' team in New York behind the Knicks.

Kyrie Irving, an NBA champion with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, has signed for four years and £112m.

The 27-year-old point guard is coming off a tumultuous two-year spell with the Boston Celtics where he was an elite scoring force but failed to galvanise their young, talented squad.

Warriors sign Russell

D'Angelo Russell
Russell, who became an All-Star for the first time in 2019, began his NBA career with the Lakers in 2015 before moving to the Nets in 2017

Signing Durant and Irving meant that Brooklyn had to sacrifice the chance to re-sign their young All-Star point guard D'Angelo Russell, who was snapped up by Golden State on a four-year deal worth £93m.

Russell, 23, led a young Brooklyn team to the play-offs last season, averaging 21 points and seven assists per game.

He will be a welcome consolation for Golden State after losing Durant, and should pair well with their two-time MVP Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, who signed a new five-year £151m deal.

Horford signs for the 76ers

Prising veteran Al Horford away from the Eastern Conference rivals Celtics is a big win for the Philadelphia 76ers and he has joined on a £87m over four years.

He's 33 and does everything well without being spectacular or needing the ball in his hands - exactly what Philadelphia, with their exciting young core of centre Joel Embiid and guard Ben Simmons, need.

Heat sign Butler

Kawhi Leonard (left) and Jimmy Butler
Butler's (right) Philadelphia 76ers lost out to Leonard (left) and the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference semi-finals

The odd man out in Philadelphia was Jimmy Butler, who was traded to Miami on a four-year, £111m deal.

It will be the abrasive forward's fourth team in nine seasons in the NBA; a reflection of an uncompromising attitude that has rubbed team-mates up the wrong way in the past. However, he will revel in being undisputedly the number one option for the Heat after having to fit in among the 76ers multi-scorer system.

Walker signs for the Celtics

Despite the loss of Irving and Horford, it's not all bad news for Boston.

Kemba Walker, who's toiled for eight years in the relative anonymity of the Charlotte Hornets, finally gets the big contract his talent deserves, worth £112n over four years, as well as the big-market spotlight.

A direct replacement at point guard for Irving, he might not be as individually spectacular but the Celtics will hope he'll provide stronger leadership for their talented but raw young squad.

What it means

The 2010s have been the decade of the "Superteam". The Miami Heat, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Golden State Warriors have accounted for 13 of 18 finalists and 6 of 9 champions between 2011-19.

But with Durant leaving Golden State, Leonard blazing his own trail and no other team able to join up more than two of the superstars on offer in free agency, the NBA is heading into is most unpredictable and exciting season in years.

Toronto's miraculous run this season will have every NBA fan believing they could win it all if the ball bounces their way.

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