The Los Angeles Clippers completed the James Harden and PJ Tucker trade on Wednesday, adding the 10-time NBA All-Star to a roster that already features Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Russell Westbrook.
The Clippers played their second game after the trade was completed, but fell short to the Lakers in overtime, 130-125. Russell Westbrook finished the game with 24 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists, and four steals, but also had six of the team's 13 turnovers while committing five fouls.
James Harden and PJ Tucker arrived together on Tuesday afternoon and showed up to the Clippers' home game against the Orlando Magic. They were able to get a little tour of the arena and were given a chance to meet all of their new (and some old) teammates. At the time, however, the trade was still not official, so Westbrook was not permitted to say anything.
Russell Westbrook's first comments on James Harden trade
“I'm telling y'all right now, James and PJ are off limits. I got nothing for you until it’s official.”
“It would be a great quote though,” one reporter responded.
“James and PJ, off limits. I got nothing for you until it’s official. So, hey, anything else y'all got?”
Russell Westbrook: "I'll tell you right now, James [Harden] and PJ [Tucker] are off limits til it's official, so I got nothing for you… Anything else y'all got?"
Me: "There was a game?"
Russ: "There you go! Let's go." 🤣
— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) November 1, 2023
With the trade becoming official on Wednesday, Westbrook expressed some cautious excitement about the additions of Harden and Tucker.
Russell Westbrook actually comments on James Harden trade
“Man, it's great,” Westbrook said postgame. “Looking forward to getting them onboard, accustomed to how we play, and it'll be exciting. Just another process to figure out and it should be easy one.”
Despite saying it should be an easy integration process, Westbrook quickly ran out of patience for Harden-related questions while he went on to say this new four-star-led team will need some time to figure things out on the floor.
“Give it a break, y'all” Westbrook said. “It’ll be a process. I don't have the answer. I don’t know, I don’t predict the future. I don't know what's going to happen. I don't know, bro. But it's going to be a process. It's going to be ups and downs, going to be good games, bad games.”
“It's not just going to come together and mesh and we're going to be perfectly fine. That's unrealistic expectations for everybody. The realistic expectations, like I said, it's going to be a process. I don't have the answer what that is.”
Russell Westbrook and James Harden had a successful first stint in Houston with the Rockets, but there's a much different dynamic with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George as the No. 1 and No. 2 options on this Clippers team.
Westbrook averaged 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, 7.0 assists, and 1.6 steals on 47.2 percent shooting from the field in that 2019-20 season with Harden. That included the NBA bubble in Orlando due to COVID-19, but Westbrook was dealing with the effects of contracting COVID-19 and another lower-body injury.
In their lone year together, Harden averaged 34.3 points, 6.6 rebounds, 7.5 assists, and 1.8 steals per game on 44.4 percent shooting from the field and 35.5 percent from three.
Harden is expected to practice to close out this week and play in New York next week. If all goes well, he'll be starting on his new team in a few days.
How will the two stars mesh now that they're together again? Who is willing to sacrifice for a chance to win an NBA Championship?