The James Harden experiment started off bad for the Los Angeles Clippers, as they lost their first five games with him in the starting lineup. Then, after moving Russell Westbrook to the bench, the Clippers rattled off three-straight wins and all of their problems seemed to be forgotten.
The Clippers now find themselves 7-9 after losing two of their last three games, sparking concern once more about Harden's fit with the team. Alongside Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, Harden's production compared to his time with the Philadelphia 76ers have declined dramatically, which is why head coach Tyronn Lue is considering the idea of more lineup changes.
On Wednesday, Lue spoke to reporters about the team's recent struggles and some of the ideas he has regarding the Clippers' rotations. According to ClutchPoints' Tomer Azarly, Lue is not considering any changes to the team's starting lineup right now, but he is giving some consideration to putting James Harden in lineups with reserves. This would be to ensure that Harden can succeed and be a focal point on offense.
Through 11 games with the Clippers, Harden is averaging just 14.1 points and 6.2 assists in roughly 33 minutes per game. The former MVP's shooting numbers are not terrible, and he can still make an impact, hence Lue's thinking for possibly getting Harden more playing time with some of the team's reserves.
Next to Leonard and George, Harden is Los Angeles' third scoring option. As a result, he does not necessarily see the same scoring and playmaking opportunities he had a season ago with the Sixers as their second option alongside MVP Joel Embiid.
Throughout his career, Harden has always had the ball in his hands late in the shot clock. This is not something that has happened with the Clippers.
Some sort of change to the Clippers' lineups appears to be on the horizon amid their recent skid. With four superstar talents highlighting their roster, Los Angeles expects to compete for and win a championship. If the playoffs began today, the Clippers would not be participating.
Lue has recognized that there is a problem with the way his team is operating offensively, which is why Harden's role may wind up changing in the coming games. The Clippers will be back in action on Wednesday night in Sacramento to face the Kings.