LOS ANGELES — Not long after James Harden and P.J. Tucker walked into their new locker room with the LA Clippers, Russell Westbrook greeted his former Houston Rockets teammates with a handshake and an embrace.
While the proposed trade between the Clippers and Philadelphia 76ers had not become official as of late Tuesday evening in L.A., Harden and Tucker were welcomed by the Clips the moment they got out of their SUV in the Crypto.com Arena loading dock.
Team president Lawrence Frank was there to greet both players and walk them to the Clippers’ locker room. Soon after, team owner Steve Ballmer came over to shake hands with Harden and Tucker.
While Clippers coach Ty Lue and players Kawhi Leonard and Westbrook said they could not comment on the trade until it is official, Westbrook hinted his approval.
Asked if the smile means he’s happy despite saying he cannot talk about the deal, Westbrook made it clear.
“Yeah,” he repeatedly said. “I mean, s—, why wouldn’t I be? Yeah, excuse my language, but definitely, definitely happy.”
In the locker room prior to the game, Westbrook and Harden were reunited again. The two played together with the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Rockets. Westbrook snapped out of his typical pregame routine and joked with Harden that he can stay on the other side of the locker room, where Harden’s new locker will be situated.
Eventually, Tucker and Harden sat near Westbrook and Paul George to catch up over an hour before they faced the Magic.
Asked by a reporter in the locker room how excited he is, Harden replied, “You don’t understand.”
While walking in the locker room, Harden also sang “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” by The Gap Band, which was playing in the nearby trainer’s room.
The expectation is that the trade will become official on Wednesday. Still, Harden and Tucker likely will not suit up for that evening’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Following Wednesday’s contest, the Clippers will have four days off before they open a three-game road swing against the New York Knicks on Monday. The Clips can use those four days as an abbreviated training camp for Harden and Tucker.
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