Clippers Favorite to Win NBA’s Western Conference, Says Gary Payton

Kawhi Leonard

Getty Kawhi Leonard and Paul George laugh as they listen to Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer speak.

The Los Angeles Clippers are the favorite to win the NBA’s Western Conference, according to NBA Hall of Famer Gary Payton.

“Yeah, I think so,” Payton said over the weekend at the BIG 3’s series of games in Dallas, Texas.

“I think they have a good team.”

Payton, a nine-time NBA All-Star, nine-time NBA All-Defensive team selection and 2013 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame inductee averaged 16.3 points and 6.7 assists during his career. The Glove holds the distinction of being the only point guard in NBA history to win the Defensive Player of the Year award.

This offseason, the Clippers signed Kawhi Leonard and traded to get Paul George from the Oklahoma City Thunder.

“But you don’t know what happens,” said Gary Payton.

“That’s paper. You don’t know what’s gonna happen, who’s going to get hurt. It’s like with the Lakers what happen with Cousins. Things happen. Lot of teams that’s over there that are going to be good like Houston, Utah, Denver, Golden State when they get all of their little pieces a little bit back.”

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Clippers Receiving High Praise

The Clippers were something to write home about last season. “I think the Clippers are one of the best watches in the NBA,” ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne told me on the Scoop B Radio Podcast.

For those keeping score at home: Leonard was heavily linked to the Clippers all along.

“I mean if he leaves, my expectation is simply that’s where he’d go,” Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher told me on the Scoop B Radio Podcast.

“He’s looking at these bombers and he’s looking at a team that from the get go will be built around him and he’s going to be where he wants to be and he’s going to be the centerpiece as much as Toronto has catered to him, it’s a little bit, again, it’s like the uniqueness of LeBron going to Dwyane Wade and joining Dwyane Wade in Miami.”

Even actor, Samuel L. Jackson had it right

“I think he is going land with the Clippers for some reason,” Jackson told Scoop B Radio.

“But it would be an interesting shot if he shows up in Brooklyn.”

Leonard ultimately signed a three-year, $104 million contract with the Clippers rather than joining LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the Lakers or staying in Toronto.

Lakers Legend Shaquille O’Neal Talks Kawhi Leonard

“Kawhi seems to be a guy who loves honesty,” Shaquille O’Neal told me.

O’Neal believes that Leonard found that in Clippers consultant Jerry West who was the architect of many pivotal deals as general manager of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Also an NBA Hall of Famer,NBA Champion and 14-time NBA All Star was quite responsible for creating the great 1980s Lakers dynasty, which brought five championship rings (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1988) to the purple and gold.

He was also integral for the Lakers’ success in the 90s and 2000s also.

“Jerry is very honest,” Shaq told me.

“Jerry probably said: ‘I’m working on a deal to get you Paul George. You’ve seen what the team did last year. You know what type of guy Doc is. This is your hometown. We would like to have you.’”

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