With Harden Acquisition, The Clippers Have No Time To Waste

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 6: James Harden #1 of nan LA Clippers successful action against Donte ... [+] DiVincenzo #0 and Isaiah Hartenstein #55 of nan New York Knicks during a crippled astatine Madison Square Garden connected November 6, 2023 successful New York City. The Knicks defeated nan Clippers 111-97. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and aliases utilizing this photograph, User is consenting to nan position and conditions of nan Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

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With 4 games nether his loop arsenic a personnel of nan Los Angeles Clippers, James Harden has looked slow, and unprepared for nan commencement of nan season.

The 34-year-old is averaging 13.5 points, 5 rounds, and a pedestrian 4.3 assists connected nan year, each successful Clippers losses.

As such, nan net is ripe pinch disapproval for nan erstwhile All-Star, who asked retired of yet different business successful Philadelphia, aft doing nan aforesaid successful some Houston and Brooklyn.

That disapproval is, overall, adjacent crippled considering really Harden picked up his $35.6 cardinal subordinate action earlier nan season, only to instantly inquire retired of Philadelphia. Instead, nan seasoned could person avoided months of media play by simply declining nan option, and signing pinch Los Angeles for what they had to offer.

However, criticizing Harden for nan measurement he handled his statement business is 1 thing. As acold arsenic nan crippled goes, it seems premature to pencil Harden successful for this existent type of production.

While his crippled is surely regressing - and somewhat quickly - it would beryllium outright shocking if Harden didn't return to astatine slightest a presentable modular of play. After all, he led nan convention successful assists conscionable past year, astatine 10.7 per game, while scoring 21 points per game. Even if a drop-off appears overwhelmingly likely, it seems almost intolerable to expect this to go his caller baseline.

Let's return nan truth that Harden hasn't moreover attempted a azygous changeable from wrong 3 feet this season. For a subordinate truthful skilled astatine getting to nan basket, that seems for illustration a statistical anomaly that's absorbing solely successful nan moment, and will beryllium agelong forgotten successful conscionable a fewer weeks.

Additionally, he's playing pinch 2 of nan league's superior wings, successful Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, while juggling ball-handling responsibilities pinch erstwhile teammate Russell Westbrook. However you portion it, that's going to return immoderate clip to set to.

So why bring this up?

For one, it's important to understand nan layers of Harden, peculiarly arsenic he moves into nan twilight of his career. He's ever been a analyzable character, either by being a heliocentric subordinate who nan Rockets tailored their full discourtesy around, aliases by changing his mind truthful frequently, he's go a punchline successful nan world media.

He also, clearly, has backstage interests disconnected nan court, which has taken up a batch of coverage, and go almost an hold of his person. Most players for illustration to party, but for Harden it's go almost an appendix that he carries astir pinch him, contempt his accustomed prowess connected a hoops court.

And therein lies nan rub.

Harden is intelligibly slowing down, has problem keeping himself successful changeless shape, and usually needs weeks to streamline his assemblage earlier he gets comfortable.

In different words, Harden likes to return his clip to get fresh for nan season, and nan Clippers simply do not person nan luxury of time.

All of Westbrook, Leonard and George tin beryllium unrestricted free agents aft this season, arsenic pinch Harden himself. They're besides 35, 32 and 33, respectively, and person each suffered from rather a fewer injuries complete nan past half-decade.

(And successful nan lawsuit of Westbrook, his crippled has besides regressed reasonably aggressively complete nan past fewer years.)

While Clippers president Steve Ballmer has heavy pockets, he doesn't person nan expertise to move backmost nan clock, nevertheless overmuch he mightiness wish to. This quartet of players are each emotion nan unit of time, aging bodies, and contractual complications, nary of which are affirmative assets for nan Clippers.

Harden will much than apt bounce backmost to a reasonable level, wherever he isn't costing his squad wins, but for really agelong tin this squad spend to wait?

If Leonard and George, successful particular, request to extends themselves physically moreover much successful nan coming weeks, to offset nan diminished play of Harden, that would only put them astatine higher consequence of picking up injuries, and complicating what nan franchise dream will beryllium a title run.

And that's wherever this falls connected Harden. While he didn't subordinate nan Clippers until recently, he knew he was vanished successful Philadelphia, and could person spent clip getting physically fresh for a early trade, if thing else. And if he did so effort to get into crippled style beforehand, past it's adjacent to mobility conscionable really overmuch longer he's sewage arsenic a master athlete, fixed his existent state.

The Clippers request to fig it out, and quickly.

Unless noted otherwise, each stats via NBA.com, PBPStats, Cleaning nan Glass aliases Basketball-Reference. All net accusation via Spotrac. All likelihood courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook.

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