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Clippers biggest problem after James Harden trade

John Munson/AP Photo

The Los Angeles Clippers pulled off a big move to acquire star guard James Harden from the Philadelphia 76ers last week.

Harden's first game with the Clippers resulted in a 111-97 loss to the New York Knicks. Harden finished the game with 17 points, six assists, and three rebounds.

The big four of Harden, Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard, and Paul George struggled to find a rhythm. It will take time for them to get on the same page, but that could be detrimental. The Western Conference is highly competitive, and taking time to gain chemistry among the four stars could be costly.

Let's move on to the Clippers' biggest problem after the James Harden trade.

Rotational depth/defense

In the Harden trade, the Clippers gave up a ton of forward depth, trading away KJ Martin, Nicholas Batum, Robert Covington, and Marcus Morris. This has left their depth weak, especially on the defensive end of the floor.

Los Angeles has solid guard depth with Bones Hyland, Norman Powell, and Terance Mann. However, the only rotational forward off the bench is PJ Tucker. Tucker is a quality defensive veteran but can't be the only forward relied upon off the bench.

The defensive struggles were evident in Monday's loss as Knicks forwards Julius Randle and RJ Barrett had 27 and 26 points, respectively.

While George and Leonard are elite defenders in the starting lineup, the defense takes a significant dropoff when they're off the court.

This will be a problem all season long, as it will be challenging to add depth moving forward after trading away most of the remaining assets for Harden.

Head coach Tyronn Lue has his work cut out to figure out how to mesh the four stars together and stagger the minutes into a productive rotation. Lue will need to instill defense into his players and rotation, as that is the main problem the Clippers face.


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