The Clippers’ locker room is a mess. During the offseason, the team snagged Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Considered two of the best NBA players around, the duo’s Clippers had high hopes that they’d earn an NBA title. If the championship is the goal, then someone needs to take charge and clean up the attitudes that are hurting the Clippers’ locker room.
The Clippers’ troubles in the locker room
Who is causing tension and why? It’s easy to trace the source to the new guys, Leonard and George. Throw in coach Doc Rivers’ often confusing management style, and this creates a recipe for disaster.
However, these three are not the only troublemakers; Montrezl Harrell gets credit for his role in stirring the pot. Let’s break down the part each has in the Clippers’ locker room drama.
With all of Leonard’s accomplishments — two NBA championships, four-time All-Star, five All-Defensive Teams, and two-time Defensive Player of the Year — the Clippers hoped he and George would lead the team to the promised land. However, once the two signed on, obvious chemistry issues surfaced.
According to NBC Sports, other Clippers players are frustrated with the preferential treatment of Leonard and George. If they hoped Leonard would become a team leader, it’s not happening. He is giving the media the silent treatment, except for a few minutes. At first, his teammates thought Leonard was standoffish, but he’s shown them he can be the “Fun Guy.”
Like Leonard, George is receiving special treatment. Both he and Leonard have missed several games during the season. They sit out for what used to be called “load management” but is now called “injury management.”
Whatever you call it, this practice leaves other Clippers to pick up the slack. Additionally, there may be trust issues as this high-maintenance player has a history of disrespecting his team, reports NBC Sports.
River’s problem: He believes it’s ok for the team not to practice often. There was even a point where Leonard and George hadn’t trained together. The players feel that when they do practice, the sessions aren’t as vigorous or serious as needed.
Rivers developed this coaching style during his time with the Boston Celtics. He believes that less practice time leads to fewer injuries. Rivers often says he was “one of the early pioneers of load management.”
Harrell isn’t shy about voicing his opinions on the Clipper’s substandard performance. After their loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on January 4, 2020, he was fired up. NBC Sports reported that Harrell was visibly upset and shared his feeling with the reporters.
“We’re not a great team. I think that’s what we need to realize and wake up,” Harrell said. “No defense, no communication, and no energy.” He added, “Losing by 20-plus points on our home floor, getting embarrassed, and booed by your home fans, that should wake anybody up.”
What should the team do next?
After the embarrassing loss to the Grizzlies, the team needed some team bonding. The players decided a night out of bowling and dinners was just the ticket.
The Clippers realize they need to look at the bigger picture of winning the NBA championship. After all, this is the reason Leonard and George came to the team. The season is not a loss yet. They have all the talent needed to reach their goal; they just need to work harder to get what they want.
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