Clippers Notes: Harden, Rotation, Westbrook, Plumlee

The Clippers are winless since trading for James Harden and P.J. Tucker on November 1 and they don’t appear close to having a cohesive rotation, writes Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. Greif notes that Harden, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Russell Westbrook are still figuring out how they’ll work together after being primary scorers throughout their careers.

Coach Tyronn Lue made an adjustment Friday in Dallas, Greif adds, taking George and Westbrook out of the game earlier than usual in the first quarter and having them replace Harden and Leonard later on. A lineup with George, Westbrook, Tucker, Norman Powell and Terance Mann was outscored by nine points in two minutes, but Lue indicated that he wants to give that combination more opportunities to succeed.

“At some point it’s going to work and nobody’s going to talk about the rotations and guys on the floor and personnel,” George said. “And at some point we’re going to figure it out.”

Harden also remains confident, telling reporters, including Law Murray of The Athletic (Twitter link), “For me individually, this is only my third game. I didn’t have a training camp, I didn’t have a preseason, so everything is still moving fast speed for me. I need about a 10-game window then kind of see where I am from there.”

There’s more on the Clippers:

  • Lue believes he needs to keep a center on the court to maximize Harden’s pick-and-roll abilities, but Mann, a 6’5″ swingman, started in the middle ahead of Ivica Zubac to begin the second half Friday, Greif adds. Lue dismissed it as a desperation move, saying he wanted to try something different with a 30-point deficit. L.A. is missing its normal backup center, Mason Plumlee, who is expected to be sidelined for a significant part of the season with an MCL sprain in his left knee.
  • Westbrook has been most impacted by the addition of Harden, Greif observes. He’s averaging 32 fewer touches in the three games that Harden has played, compared to 14 fewer for Leonard and seven fewer for George. In a full story, Murray suggests that Lue is unlikely to remove Westbrook from the starting lineup, so it might be up to the front office to determine Westbrook’s future with the team.
  • Before being injured, Plumlee talked to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype about why he decided to re-sign with the Clippers this summer. “I feel like in the whole time I’ve been in the league, there’s been one team (Denver in the 2020 Western Conference Finals) I’ve been on where I felt like we had a chance to win the whole thing,” Plumlee said. “This was another one of those chances. It took a little bit of sacrifice to choose to come back here, but it’s been well worth it and makes it fun to come in each day.”
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