New Clippers guard James Harden discussed his desire to help the team win a championship during his introductory presser on Thursday, and the Clippers are much closer to winning a chip by acquiring him, Mirjam Swanson of The Orange County Register opines. However, Swanson argues that trading for Harden puts the Clippers under more public scrutiny, adding Harden to a list of big-name players alongside Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Russell Westbrook.
The fit between Harden and Westbrook, who have played together twice before in Houston and Oklahoma City, will be interesting to watch unfold. Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times further explores the fit, adding that coach Tyronn Lue said he hasn’t yet talked to the two about splitting ball-handling duties.
“I don’t predict the future. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know, bro,” Westbrook said. “But it’s going to be a process. It’s going to be ups and downs, going to be good games, bad games. It’s not just going to come together and mesh and we’re going to be perfectly fine. That’s unrealistic expectations for everybody. The realistic expectations, like I said, it’s going to be a process. I don’t have the answer to what that is.”
Harden said he’s used to adjusting his playing style, having done so in Brooklyn and Philadelphia alongside other superstars, though he expressed displeasure with his role in Philly.
“Somebody that can have that dialogue with me and understand and move forward and figure out and make adjustments on the fly throughout the course of games, that’s all I really care about,” Harden said. “It’s not about me scoring … 34 points. I’ve done that already.”
Harden is in the final year of his contract and will earn about $35.6MM this season.
We have more from the Pacific Division:
- The Warriors are off to a 5-1 start, but they are still figuring out certain lineups, The Athletic’s Anthony Slater observes. In particular, head coach Steve Kerr is still working through the team’s closing unit, and Jonathan Kuminga, Andrew Wiggins and Gary Payton II are all fighting for spots in that lineup, with Payton closing out Friday.
- In the same article, Slater reports the Warriors sent Brandin Podziemski and Trayce Jackson-Davis to the G League to get playing time in training camp with Santa Cruz. However, Draymond Green argued that the Warriors played with low energy on Friday and that not having the young players there hurt the team. “Next time we have an in-season tournament game, we need them here,” Green said. “You always talk about young guys bringing energy, that’s their job. We don’t have to tell those young guys to bring energy. They do every single day. I wasn’t overly shocked our energy wasn’t there because they lift our energy level. … We need them here. They are a big part of the fabric of this team. We missed them [Friday].“
- With both De’Aaron Fox and Trey Lyles still out for the Kings, Sacramento’s depth is being tested early on, The Sacramento Bee’s Jason Anderson writes. Davion Mitchell and Sasha Vezenkov have been taking on the majority of Fox’s and Lyles’ minutes.
- After returning to play Thursday, Suns guard Devin Booker is out again for Saturday’s contest against the Sixers, according to Duane Rankin (Twitter link). Head coach Frank Vogel is “hopeful” Booker will play in the second game of the team’s back-to-back on Sunday against the Pistons, but that the short turnaround mixed with ankle soreness is holding him out today.