When All-Star guard James Harden and P.J. Tucker entered the Crypto.com Arena, they were met by Lawrence Frank, the Clippers’ president of basketball operations, and soon Clippers owner Steve Ballmer was embracing both of his two new players.
Harden then eased his way into the Clippers’ locker room Tuesday wearing a white hoodie and white shorts, a smile on his face, shaking hands with reporters he passed by a few hours before they played the Orlando Magic.
A reporter asked if Harden was excited to have been traded to the Clippers late Monday night, a trade that actually hasn’t become official yet.
“You don’t understand,” Harden said.
Harden had forced his way out of Philadelphia, and was joined by Tucker, the two of them coming here in exchange for Nicolas Batum, Marcus Morris Sr., Robert Covington, Kenyon Martin Jr. and a slew of future draft picks.
Before the game against the Magic, Clippers coach Ty Lue was unable to talk about the trade because it had not become official.
And even if it had late Tuesday night, Harden and Tucker were not expected to play against the Lakers Wednesday night.
Westbrook seemed to be enjoying the moment the most, cracking jokes with Harden, the two former teammates in Oklahoma City and Houston coming alive in the other’s presence.
“You all right?” Westbrook said to Harden.
Westbrook then smiled and said to Harden, ”Stay on that side.”
“Stay here?” Harden responded, smiling.
“You know where you at?” Westbrook said, still joking with Harden.
A few seconds later, Harden walked toward Westbrook anyway and the two embraced.
Next, Tucker walked over to Westbrook and the two of them also embraced.
It wasn’t long before Westbrook, Paul George, Harden and Tucker were all sitting next to each other in the locker room, obviously excited about what the future holds for the Clippers as they seek the franchise’s first-ever NBA championship.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.