Learning that NBA players, from the same team or not, spend time together in the offseason isn’t exactly groundbreaking stuff. Just last week, a group of them — Jayson Tatum, Donovan Mitchell, Carmelo Anthony, PJ Tucker, Grant Williams, and Mo Bamba — attended a Fourth of July party together. You remember the days of the Banana Boat, don’t you?
Okay, so those types of gatherings are more vacations than they are get-togethers. The latter is what at least a chunk of the Los Angeles Clippers' core has been up to lately — getting together for workouts, preparing for a 2022-23 season where they are currently slated as one of the title favorites, at least in the eyes of oddsmakers.
In a recent report from ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk, he noted that the team’s two-star tandem of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George have been leading offseason workouts with their teammates, both in Los Angeles and San Diego.
“Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, from what I’ve been told, have been organizing workouts with the team,” Youngmisuk said on ESPN. “Getting as many as 8 to 12 guys in the gym, not only in Los Angeles, but then they did have almost like a field trip in San Diego to visit Kawhi a few weeks ago, workout there with him, they’re going through drills. And then the vets usually get together again in Las Vegas for a few days during Summer League so they can watch the young guys play while working out there.”
On Instagram, Paul George posted a photo following a crew workout, as well as a series of videos of him lifting and getting up shots over the course of a week in late June.
Second-year forward Brandon Boston Jr. confirmed the report at Tuesday’s practice, telling media that the team took a trip down to San Diego, where they trained and spent time on the beach.
It’s not the first we’ve seen of the Clippers working out this offseason. After their premature exit in last season’s play-in tournament, where L.A. failed to qualify for the postseason after losing to both the Minnesota Timberwolves and New Orleans Pelicans in consecutive opportunities to advance, the team returned to the gym with championship aspirations in mind.
Not much has changed for the Clippers so far this offseason. Despite losing Isaiah Hartenstein, who signed a two-year, $16 million deal with the New York Knicks in free agency, L.A. brought back both Ivica Zubac, Nicolas Batum, and Amir Coffey for another go as Clippers.
Zubac re-signed for three years and $33 million; Batum returns on a two-year, $22 million deal; Coffey’s is for three years and $11 million. They also signed John Wall to a two-year, $13 million deal; he accounts for their only new roster addition so far in free agency. For the most part, it’s clear that the Clippers have prioritized continuity as the offseason begins.
That starts, of course, with their two stars. And to hear that the two have embraced their roles as veteran leaders — despite having gone over a year since touching the floor together in a Clippers uniform — is undoubtedly a welcome sight for Clippers fans.
It’s not necessarily a surprise to see Leonard and George taking on these responsibilities, but it is refreshing. Neither has exactly been saddled with the “leader” moniker on any of their past teams, but at 31 (Leonard) and 32 (George), the perennial All-Stars aren’t just the Clippers’ two best players, but among the team’s oldest. With power comes great responsibility; the same goes for age, if you’re ready for it.
It appears that the Clippers are. With their MVP candidates at the helm.