Do the Clippers already have a chemistry problem?

Do the Clippers already have a chemistry problem?

It’s only two games into an 82-game season, and frustration already seems to be on the Los Angeles Clippers’ agenda. During LA’s game in Utah against the Jazz, Kawhi Leonard’s body language said much more than he ever would publicly following Russell Westbrook’s game-winning shot attempt.

In fairness to Westbrook, Leonard had just missed what would have been the game-winner from behind the arc to beat the shot clock. The rebound bounced off the side of the rim right into Russ’ clutches with just seconds remaining. Initially, the reaction is to blame Westbrook, especially after seeing the shot come up short. Nicholas Batum was a few feet away on the wing with about three seconds on the clock, but at that point, a quick decision was needed to get any shot off.

However, that isn’t the real issue here. This was the second game of the season. Of course, you’d prefer Westbrook to kick it out to Batum or get it back to Leonard, but Kawhi falling to the floor as the shot goes up is what’s grabbing everyone’s attention. If Kawhi hadn’t fallen to the floor with his head down, folks would have quickly moved past this loss. It’s the second game of the year, so it’s not a big deal.

This feels like just the beginning of a season full of frustration, similar to what the Lakers experienced during Russ’ short tenure on that side of Arena. The funnier part is that the organization is seriously considering adding James Harden to this calamity.

The Clippers should win a lot of games this year regardless of whether they acquire Harden but adding him to the mix doesn’t increase their odds of winning a championship. And we’re not talking about odds on Las Vegas betting lines. They’ll improve their odds should that trade happen because they know a lot of fools will take the bait.

When it comes down to it, this team’s title window has been slammed shut. Leonard and Paul George don’t play enough, and Westbrook won’t be able to pick up all the slack. On paper, adding Harden seems like a good move to many, but we’ve witnessed Harden in the postseason for far too long. The deeper his teams have gone, the less we’ve seen of MVP Harden. The Clippers would be better off picking up a couple of high-end role players who can come in and contribute immediately, adding to their depth.

Maybe Leonard’s reaction to Westbrook’s shot was taken out of context, but the optics did not look good. In the age of social media, that’s all it takes for something to take off and go viral. Bad body language tells its own story and doesn’t wait for an explanation. This might be something Kawhi needs to clear up with Russ because it looked like he’d lost all faith in Westbrook after that one failed attempt. It’s tough playing an entire season with a point guard you don’t trust with the ball in his hands.

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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.