After four days off that gave the Clippers time to practice and get James Harden used to their system — even if he is the system — he is ready to make his debut.
James Harden will debut as a Clipper in Madison Square Garden against the Knicks, reports Shams Charania and Law Murray of The Athletic. This was to be expected, and the Clippers need him to compete with the elite teams in the West.
"He's a 10-time All-Star, was the MVP, but he's a dynamic pick-and-roll player…" Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said of Harden. "I think it was established he got his teammates last year 350 open shots just by running the pick-and-roll, by getting penetration to the paint and making plays. And he led the league in assists the last couple of years and we need his passing ability.”
That's an easy decision for Tyronn Lue to make with Terance Mann still sidelined with a sprained ankle, but expect this starting five to stay in place once Mann is ready to go. Part of that is team chemistry — Mann will be more willing to accept coming off the bench than Westbrook. Lue can run his starters out for five minutes, substitute in Mann, then bring Westbrook back in the late first/second quarter to lead the bench unit and get Westbrook all the touches he wants.
Who closes games will be more interesting.
"Sacrifice is gonna be the biggest thing," Lue said of making this all work. "The guys we have, four guys from L.A. and four guys have done a lot in their career. So they understand that we've talked about just winning the championship, that's what we're focused on, and it's gonna take a lot of sacrifice, whether shots, whether it's minutes, and they're willing to do that."
Lue believes they are. The rest of us will see starting Monday in New York.