Finding Their Groove: The Clippers Are Coming Together, Just as P.J. Tucker Predicted

NBA journeyman P.J. Tucker had some interesting comments about the Los Angeles Clippers earlier this week about there not being enough basketballs to fulfill the team’s needs. Of course, he’s referring to his Clippers recently adding James Harden to a roster that already included Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, and Russell Westbrook.“There’s not enough basketballs on the planet for this team, really,” Tucker said.While that’s likely to end up being the understatement of the year, after a rough start with Harden, the Clippers have begun to right the ship. The Clippers are 7-8 with Harden on the court since he and Tucker were acquired from Philadelphia. The team lost their first five games of Harden’s tenure, they’ve bounced back, winning seven of 10 since then. Of course, their winning now makes it safe for those who’d already written them off to jump back on the Clippers bandwagon. Sure, they may prove to be formidable during parts of the regular season, but when it comes down to it, they’ll fall short, as usual. Their getting hot only serves to reel fans in and give them hope before the fall flat on their faces. It’s the inevitable fate of any team depending heavily on Harden. If these four future Hall of Famers can continue to play “nice,” they could potentially make up some ground out west. But as usual, the main issue for this LA squad is health. If the majority of their key components stay on the floor, they’ve got a shot at competing in the Western Conference. Does health alone guarantee they’ll go far? No. But they’d have a fighting chance.As for Tucker, the veteran and NBA champion seems like nothing more than a “throw-in” in the Harden trade. Over the last four games, Tucker has been listed as DNP (did not play). In other words, the coach decided he couldn’t play him. Like most 38-year-old NBA role players, Tucker’s best days are behind him, although he is one of the dirty-work guys every roster needs. He’s never been a star, but always a player who could hit timely shots and be an enforcer, even in an era where that word is frowned upon. In time, Tucker will find his spot on this team, but it’s doubtful it’ll involve him seeing more than one or two shots per game. In 12 games with the Clippers, Tucker is playing about 14 minutes per game and taking one shot. There’s a reason he made that comment to Sam Amick of The Athletic about not having enough balls to share in LA. However, when you’re not even touching the court, getting shots is probably the last thing to worry about. Tucker brings some of that toughness a team like this could use, but if Tyron Lue isn’t playing him, it’s likely for good reason. This could be a case of Tucker finally hitting that wall all pro athletes run into and Lue noticing a change. Or Lue could be wanting to conserve Tucker, knowing they’ll need his edge down the road. Either way, the Clippers should be an intriguing roller-coaster ride all season.