James Harden Eyes 3-Year Deal with Clippers Amid LeBron James and Lakers Speculation

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James Harden is rumored to be seeking a three-year contract with the Los Angeles Clippers if Paul George exits in free agency. Amid speculation, LeBron James is reportedly willing to take a pay cut to help the Lakers sign key players like Harden. Explore the latest updates on Harden’s free agency and the potential moves by the Clippers and Lakers.

James Harden Eyes 3-Year Deal with Clippers Amid LeBron James and Lakers Speculation
James Harden Eyes 3-Year Deal with Clippers Amid LeBron James and Lakers Speculation

James Harden Rumors: Clippers FA Eyes 3-Year Contract amid LeBron James, Lakers Buzz

The NBA free agency period is always rife with speculation and rumors, and this year is no exception. James Harden, a former MVP and current free agent, finds himself at the center of numerous reports and potential scenarios. One of the most intriguing involves the Los Angeles Clippers and the potential departure of Paul George, which could pave the way for Harden to secure a three-year contract. Meanwhile, whispers about LeBron James’ willingness to take a pay cut to help the Lakers sign Harden add another layer of complexity to the offseason drama.

Harden’s Potential Move to the Clippers

According to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, James Harden is “expected to find” a three-year contract offer from the Los Angeles Clippers if Paul George exits the team in free agency. The Clippers, keen to restructure their roster and get under the second apron, have been exploring various avenues to achieve this, including gaining access to the $5.2 million tax-payer mid-level exception.

This strategic maneuvering underscores the Clippers’ interest in bringing Harden on board. Harden, known for his scoring prowess and playmaking abilities, would be a valuable addition to any team, particularly one looking to bolster its championship aspirations.

LeBron James and the Lakers Factor

Complicating the situation further is the buzz around LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. ESPN’s Dave McMenamin reported that LeBron James would be willing to take a pay cut on a max deal to facilitate the signing of key players, including Harden. This move, orchestrated with the help of James’ agent, Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul, could see James signing a deal worth less than the maximum of three years and $162 million. This financial flexibility would open up the full $12.9 million mid-level exception for the Lakers.

However, whether this would be sufficient to lure Harden is another question. Michael Scotto of HoopsHype suggests that Harden is projected to earn “somewhere closer to double” the mid-level exception amount, which casts doubt on the Lakers’ ability to meet his financial expectations without significant roster adjustments.

Paul George’s Uncertain Future

Paul George’s decision to decline his $48.7 million player option has left his future with the Clippers in flux. Although George could still return to the team, the uncertainty surrounding his next move has fueled speculation. As Shams Charania of The Athletic noted, George will meet with several teams once free agency begins, with the Clippers being one of the potential suitors.

Clippers president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank expressed hope earlier in the offseason that the team could retain both Harden and George. “We’d like to be able to bring back and retain Paul and James,” Frank said on May 6, according to ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk. “We’re hopeful we can, but also understand and respect the fact that they’re free agents. Paul has a decision with his option. James will be an unrestricted free agent, so our intent is to bring him back, but also realize that they’re elite players and they’ll have choices.”

Harden’s Performance and Fit with the Clippers

James Harden’s performance with the Clippers since his trade from the Philadelphia 76ers has been solid, though not at the peak levels seen earlier in his career. His scoring average of 16.6 points per game is the lowest since the 2010-11 season, but he still managed to contribute significantly with 5.1 rebounds and 8.5 assists per game. His shooting percentages were respectable, with 42.8 percent from the field and 38.1 percent from three-point range.

Harden’s ability to adapt to a different role with the Clippers has been noteworthy. He embraced a smaller role, focusing more on facilitating and supporting his teammates rather than being the primary scorer. This versatility and team-first attitude make him an attractive option for any team looking to add a veteran presence with a high basketball IQ.

The Financial Landscape

The financial aspect of signing James Harden is a significant consideration for both the Clippers and the Lakers. The Clippers’ exploration of ways to get under the second apron and gain access to the mid-level exception highlights the financial juggling act required to bring in top-tier talent. For the Lakers, LeBron James’ willingness to take a pay cut to open up cap space demonstrates the lengths they are willing to go to build a competitive roster around their superstar.

Harden’s projected market value suggests he could command a salary significantly higher than the mid-level exception, posing a challenge for teams with limited cap space. The Clippers and Lakers will need to navigate these financial constraints carefully to make a viable offer that appeals to Harden.

The Broader Free Agency Picture

James Harden’s free agency decision is just one piece of the broader NBA offseason puzzle. His choice will likely influence other free agents and potential trades as teams adjust their strategies based on his destination. The Clippers’ and Lakers’ moves will be closely watched as they seek to build rosters capable of contending for a championship.

The potential departure of Paul George adds another layer of intrigue. If George leaves, the Clippers will need to fill a significant void, and Harden could be a key part of that solution. Conversely, retaining George and adding Harden would create a formidable lineup, potentially elevating the Clippers to serious title contenders.


James Harden’s free agency saga is set to be one of the most captivating stories of the NBA offseason. With the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers both in the mix, the decisions made by Harden, Paul George, and LeBron James will have far-reaching implications for the league. The Clippers’ financial maneuvers and the Lakers’ willingness to make sacrifices highlight the high stakes involved in securing top talent.

As teams prepare their pitches and players weigh their options, the NBA landscape is poised for significant changes. James Harden’s next move will be a key domino in this dynamic and ever-evolving offseason. Whether he ends up with the Clippers, the Lakers, or another team altogether, his decision will shape the competitive balance of the league for the foreseeable future.

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