The LA Clippers have retooled their roster in a major way. In adding James Harden, they opted to sacrifice suboptimal bench pieces to get a guy who they believe can help them take the next step.
Realistically, the Clippers got a very solid deal for Harden. Marcus Morris was out of Head Coach Ty Lue’s rotation anyway, and Nic Batum was on the verge of retirement. However, the flip side of the coin is the question of what Harden will actually change for LA.
There is a very real argument to be made that having James Harden on the roster could take the ball out of the hands of their two best players and make life more difficult for Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. That is precisely the argument respected NBA analyst Bill Simmons made earlier this week.
Bill Simmons believes the James Harden experiment will be a failure
On his self-titled podcast, Bill Simmons tore into the Clippers for trading for James Harden. He remarked that the team made the trade late at night so as to not embarrass themselves. While Simmons’ message may seem overdramatic, he backs his argument up by pointing out Harden’s various playoff disappointments.
“It’s an all-time resume,” said Simmons, referring to Harden’s long list of disastrous performances in the postseason. “And the Clippers were like, ‘that’s the guy that can take the Clippers over the top.'”
Unfortunately, Simmons makes a strong case for his argument when we look at how often James Harden has shrunk on the big stage in the playoffs. Just this past May, he put up 13 and nine points in Game 6 and Game 7 of the 76ers’ second-round series loss against the Celtics.
Simmons noted Harden’s need to have the ball in his hands
While Harden has adapted his game to be more unselfish with the ball in recent years, Bill still cited his need to have the ball in his hands to be successful. “He slows you down,” said Simmons. “He needs the ball all the time.”
On a team with several important players that do not play heavily off the ball, this could end up being a valid point. If Harden’s style of play does end up taking Kawhi and PG out of their natural rhythms, it could be a long season for the Clippers.
In digesting all of this, it is important to remember that Bill Simmons is a known James Harden hater. This season will ultimately tell us whether he has a leg to stand on with his argument, but there are certainly already some troubling signs for Clippers fans to be cautious of.