The Los Angeles Clippers‘ decision to trade for James Harden came with some risk but also with great potential return. However, with Russell Westbrook already on the team, people questioned their fit and ability to coexist on the court at this point in their careers.
Westbrook had already excelled with the team, whereas Harden was more of a wildcard after all the recent stops in his career. And with this being potentially his last chance, you knew he wouldn’t take a backseat to anybody.
That’s why Westbrook took the high road and requested Tyronn Lue to come off the bench to help the second unit and provide more balance for the starting lineup. And thus far, it seems like that’s the only way they can get things done, even if the Clippers didn’t want that, according to The Athletic’s Law Murray.
Clippers Could Move On From Westbrook
“The decision to bring Westbrook off of the bench is not one that the players or coaches would have wanted,” wrote Murray. “Lue wanted to establish Westbrook as the primary ball handler when he shared the floor with Harden, with Harden being the shooting guard. But Harden’s discomfort shooting 3s off of the catch became a recurring theme, along with his passive approach to scoring that led Lue to say Harden was being “too polite” after a bad loss Sunday against the Memphis Grizzlies. Lue decided to have Harden be the primary ball handler in Tuesday’s loss in Denver, and Harden closed the game over Westbrook in a fourth quarter that saw the Clippers lose a 7-point lead and get outscored 19-9 in the final six minutes of the game.”
Nonetheless, moving Westbrook to the second unit also makes him somewhat expendable, and the Clippers still need to recoup some of the depth they lost getting Harden in the first place.
“The reality of this move is that Harden was brought in to ultimately replace Westbrook in the case that a partnership between the two players on the floor did not work,” Murray continued. “While Lue advocated for Westbrook, the Clippers front office has always preferred a point guard who is a theoretical fit with Leonard and George in terms of size and shooting ability.”
The Clippers Aren’t A Finished Product
The Clippers need size. They gave up a lot of it getting Harden, and Ivica Zubac has struggled against more physical big men, so an upgrade at that position should be one of the biggest points of emphasis for the front office:
“The Clippers still need to balance the roster out and are expected to continue evaluating the team going forward,” Murray continued. “That evaluation now includes Harden as the undisputed primary playmaker, Mann as a starter and Westbrook as an increasingly expendable asset who will have to adjust to a new role — which will also cost Hyland a spot in the second unit as well. If the losses continue, there will be more pressure on the front office to consider whether they can keep the four Los Angeles stars together. But the player who has the most to lose is Westbrook, who is already on a much lighter deal than Harden and extension-eligible stars George and Leonard.“
This wouldn’t be fair to Westbrook by any means, but this is a ruthless business, and this wouldn’t be the last time he’s been a team’s fall guy.
SURVEY Will the Clippers trade Westbrook?
Will the Clippers trade Westbrook?
ALREADY VOTED 0 PEOPLE