Things aren’t so rosy in Clippers Land, it seems.
On the surface, everything is fine. After acquiring two superstars in the off-season — Kawhi Leonard and Paul George — they have dealt with injuries and load management to carve out a relatively strong start to the season.
The Clippers are sitting in the third seed with a 31-14 record, despite Leonard and George missing a combined total of 30 games this season.
But according to a report from , there are some players who are growing tired of the “preferential treatment” the team’s biggest superstars are receiving.
The current version of the Clippers is a world away from last season’s team; essentially a roster of role players who came together to make the playoffs and push the Golden State Warriors six games.
With Leonard and George, they have that superstar push. But they also have everything else that comes with the superstar experience.
“Off the court, sources say there are some teammates who have struggled with the organisation’s preferential treatment that is afforded to Leonard and George,” Jovan Buha and Sam Amick wrote for The Athletic.
Per The Athletic: “When two walk-throughs were unexpectedly cancelled this season, for example, sources say some of Leonard’s teammates who had been eager to work believed he [Leonard] was the one who made the final call.
“Clippers coach Doc Rivers denied to The Athletic that this was the case.”
According to the report, Rivers’ approach to practice — being that he doesn’t like to do it often — combined with injuries, a front-loaded schedule, and Leonard’s injury management, means that there is a “lighter mood” when it comes to putting in work.
“Multiple players, according to league sources, don’t feel the team practices as hard or as seriously as it should at this point in the season,” The Athletic reported.
Doubts over the chemistry in the Clippers locker room surfaced after bench big man, Montrezl Harrell, unloaded after a 26-point defeat at the start of January.
Harrell said the Clippers couldn’t be considered a “great” team yet; something that reportedly drew the ire of Rivers.
According to The Athletic, “The gist of the expletive-laden message had been sent loud and clear: Keep your frustrations internal. Don’t vent to the media and create distractions for this locker room.”
But Harrell, who is in a contract year, isn’t immune to criticism himself, with some teammates reportedly taking issue with the 25-year-old’s approach.
“The comments also rubbed certain players the wrong way,” The Athletic’s story read. “As they feel that Harrell’s post-game mood can be dictated more by his individual box-score performance than the game’s outcome, according to sources.”
As Buha and Amick pointed out, there’s somewhat of a “philosophical difference” inside the Clippers organisation.
Leonard and George are looking at the bigger picture; in other words, a title. Guys like Harrell, Moe Harkless, JaMychal Green, and Patrick Patterson are all in contract years. Meanwhile, some of the younger players are still trying to make a name for themselves in the league.
“I think it boils down to Kawhi not talking, and so who is their true leader?,” One source with knowledge of the Clippers’ dynamics told The Athletic.
“How do you get around that?”