The LA Clippers are finding trouble meshing after the addition of James Harden. Could this bold take be part of the resolution?
When the LA Clippers acquired James Harden from the Philadelphia 76ers, there was a natural concern. As is the case with every star acquisition, there were questions about whether or not Harden would fit seamlessly with what the Clippers have already built around Paul George and Kawhi Leonard.
The early returns are, at the very least, concerning. After getting off to a 3-1 start to the season, the Clippers have lost five straight games since the trade for Harden and four straight with him in the starting lineup.
In four games played with the Clippers, Harden is averaging 14 points, five rebounds, and four assists per game on 47 percent shooting from the field. Solid numbers all around but the team results have been poor. So much so that it has left the Clippers with more questions than answers since making the blockbuster move.
In what will be considered a hot take around the league, ESPN’s Zach Lowe believes that part of fixing the Clippers’ recent struggles could involve bringing Harden off the bench. However, at this point, I’m not sure how feasible that is realistically.
Is it James Harden’s responsibility to fit it?
Being an in-season acquisition, the big question revolving around this entire issue for the Clippers is whether it’s solely Harden’s responsibility to try to fit in on the team. Being such a big piece to an offense, inserting Harden was always going to be a tall task. Doing so in-season was naturally going to bring about some growing pains.
However, I’m not sure if anyone expected a 0-4 start to Harden’s tenure with the Clippers, including a loss to arguably the worst team in the NBA. Should Harden be coming off the bench as was proposed by Lowe? When you think of it, that probably should’ve been the move since the onset.
Right now, though, it’s almost impossible for the Clippers to do this in reverse. Asking Harden to come off the bench now would feel and sound like a demotion. But if the Clippers had brought Harden off the bench from the beginning, they could’ve chalked it up to getting him into the swing of things and bringing him along slowly.
That’s arguably been the Clippers’ biggest mistake in this entire process. Quite frankly, I’m not sure how there’s any turning back.
Even though it might be in the best interest of the team to bring Harden off the bench, at least until he gets his legs under him and until the team is comfortable with him in the lineup, I don’t see how they can make that move now. For better or worse, the Clippers are stuck in their own ways.