James Harden shows up with P.J. Tucker to meet Clippers brass, teammates; reunites with Russell Westbrook

The James Harden trade isn't yet official.

But that's not stopping him from publicly embracing the Los Angeles Clippers.

The formerly disgruntled Philadelphia 76ers All-Star arrived in Los Angeles on Tuesday to meet his new team. He joined fellow new Clipper P.J. Tucker at Arena prior to the team's game against the Orlando Magic just hours after both were traded to Los Angeles in a blockbuster deal.

First piece of business: Meet the new boss. Harden and Tucker were greeted in the tunnel by Clippers team owner Steve Ballmer and president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank.

The group exchanged hugs and handshakes before Harden and Tucker made their way to the Clippers locker room. There, a reunion commenced between Harden and his former Oklahoma City Thunder/Houston Rockets teammate Russell Westbrook.

How will these ball-dominant stars fit together?

The last time they played together, Harden and Westbrook both averaged better than 27 points, seven assists and six rebounds for the 2019-20 Rockets. The All-Star backcourt pairing didn't translate to on-court success.

The Rockets were eliminated from the NBA bubble in the second round of the playoffs by the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers. It was the final full season for both players in Houston before Harden forced a trade to the Brooklyn Nets the following season.

James Harden and Paul George are now teammates. (AP Photo/Joe Reedy)
James Harden and Paul George are now teammates. (AP Photo/Joe Reedy)

Pairing two of the most iso-heavy guards in the same backcourt will be one of head coach Tyronn Lue's biggest challenges. Especially considering that forwards Kawhi Leonard and Paul George also frequently operate in isolation. Expect a healthy rotation of nights off that should challenge the NBA's new player-rest rule.

However it works out, Harden is ready for it. When asked by the Orange County Register's Janis Carr if he is excited to be a Clipper, Harden responded: "You don't understand."

Exactly when the NBA's latest experiment will be set in motion is unclear. Lue told reporters pregame that he couldn't comment on Harden and Tucker because the trade wasn't yet official. The Clippers next play the Lakers on Wednesday on ESPN, which would add up to a blockbuster debut for the new lineup. But it's likely too soon to get Harden and Tucker on the floor.

If not then, a date Monday against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden would also make for appointment viewing.