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The Clippers' Plan After Trading For This Ten-Time All-Star

Halloween kicked off this morning with a "Woj Bomb". NBA All-Star James Harden was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers for "fan-favorite" Marcus Morris, Nic Batum, Robert Covington, draft compensation, and swaps. The Clippers are also receiving PJ Tucker and Filip Petrusev.

The Clippers felt that they had a strong team previously but just needed to stay healthy. They have had multiple promising seasons fall short due to key and untimely injuries to stars like Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. They also felt that their core could have won in 2020 if not for the pandemic that changed the course of the season. That is all behind them now as they are looking to make the most of the years that Paul George and Kawhi Leonard have left together. Kawhi is 32 and Paul George is 33. They have a few years left before they may start considering being full-time family men.

The same goes for James Harden who just turned 34 and Russell Westbrook who is turning 35. Coincidentally, they are all California natives and are looking to bring the Los Angeles Clippers their first-ever NBA finals appearance and championship in franchise history. This team will have to figure out the contracts this offseason as they are all free agents, but I am assuming a lot will rest on how this season plays out. The fact that they are playing in their home state could only help in their decision to re-sign, but they still must take care of business on the court first. How can they do that?

Clippers Need To Stay Healthy

Making sure James Harden or Russell Westbrook are on the court facilitating at all times is a must. It does not matter which player starts with which unit because they will ultimately play with both, which could be a luxury for Ty Lue and the Clippers who desperately needed better point guard play. Harden has played a lot as a ball-dominator but he also can play off-ball. Westbrook has also improved off-ball and stepped up for them last season but they cannot expect him to be facilitating for 48 minutes at the age of 35.

Adding Harden also creates the threat of perimeter scoring which can also give the Clippers another facet on offense. Allowing Kawhi and PG to play off-ball and garner open looks can only be beneficial. With them not having to work *as hard* to create shots, they can expend more energy on the defensive end where their talents will be needed. That is also where keeping Terance Mann is huge. Kawhi has become an amazing off-ball player and is now on a career stretch in three-point shooting. Paul George is also a notoriously gifted off-ball player and shooter, which gives Harden an additional option to find, whether in transition, from an off-ball screen, or he attempts to kick out during a drive.

This also takes the ball out of Kawhi and Paul George's hands, who as talented as they are, tend to get carried away with iso-ball at bad times like we saw towards the end of the Utah loss a few days ago. That can also be a cause for concern because Harden is a notorious iso-dominator, which could just add fuel to a wildfire. However, Harden has been doing so less frequently as he has been taking on the facilitator role for his past few teams. He was the facilitator most recently for Embiid and also probably most famously a facilitator with Kyrie and KD. Harden has averaged 10.5 assists over the past four seasons and he could be playing with the best team he has played with yet.

A lot remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure: they all have a goal of bringing one home and they're all going to do their best to make it happen. Happy Halloween folks!

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