It's been somewhat of a rough year for the Los Angeles Clippers, even though their 31-14 record doesn't quite show it.
If you remember last season, the scrappy Clippers were fun to watch, looked like they were enjoying being on the court together, and were even able to take the Golden State Warriors to six games in the playoffs. But this season doesn't quite have the same energy as the last, despite the addition of superstars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
That may be due to reports that some members of the team feel that the pair have been receiving preferential treatment this season, according to The Athletic. The Clippers were without a superstar last season, so its reasonable to believe that adding Leonard and George has made some impact on team chemistry.
Off the court, sources say there are some teammates who have struggled with the organization’s preferential treatment that is afforded to Leonard and George.
But that element didn’t exist with last season’s Clippers, where there was a largely egalitarian ecosystem. It has been an adjustment for multiple players to see two newcomers come in and have such a significant influence on everyone’s schedule.
But preferential treatment is probably not on Kawhi's agenda, or George's for that matter. With both players not necessarily known for being boisterous figures, there is apparently some confusion as to who is the de facto team leader.
Even Leonard’s biggest supporters will admit that he is a lead-by-example type, and the fact that George tends to be the same means there is occasional uncertainty about whose voice should rise above the rest.
“I think it boils down to Kawhi not talking, and so who is their true leader?” one source with knowledge of the Clippers’ dynamics said. “How do you get around that?”
Despite all of the rumors swirling around the team, players are pretty tight-lipped about any issues they're having.
Montrezl Harrell, however, has not been shy about his feelings regarding team play. After a recent embarrassing loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, a reporter asked the Clippers big man about the vibe in the locker room, to which he replied: "I don't know brother, I don't know and maybe that's the problem right there."
Tension had been quietly building in the locker room, according to multiple sources, but Harrell’s comments confirmed the uncomfortability some felt. The comments also rubbed certain players the wrong way, 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.
So, it looks like there's more happening with the Clippers than meets the eye. Harrell might also be complaining about the team's lighter approach to practices as well. He plays so intensely, that he probably would be one of the players upset that his teammates aren't playing as hard at practice.
The Clippers play the Miami Heat on Friday.