James Harden free agency: Clippers to sign veteran star to two-year, $70 million deal, per report

James Harden and the Los Angeles Clippers have agreed to a two-year, $70 million contract, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. When the deal is official, Harden, who turns 35 in August, will be under contract until the end of the 2025-2026 season, one year before teammate Kawhi Leonard’s contract expires. The second season, however, is reportedly a player option, so Harden can hit the market again a year from now if he chooses.

The Clippers acquired Harden early last season in a blockbuster trade with the Philadelphia 76ers. This followed the disintegration of Harden’s relationship with Sixers president Daryl Morey, which prompted Harden’s decision to pick up his 2023-24 player option — and demand a trade — rather than hitting free agency last offseason. This time around, the situation surrounding Harden’s next deal was much less fraught. There was no buzz whatsoever about Harden going elsewhere, and the two sides got a deal done right at the beginning of the moratorium. (They could have reached an agreement at any point after the NBA Finals ended, but this still qualifies as early.)

In 72 games for Los Angeles, Harden averaged 16.6 points, 8.5 assists and 5.1 rebounds in 34.3 minutes. His usage rate fell to 20.2%, the lowest it has been since his second season in the NBA, but had a true shooting percentage of 61.2%. Harden is not the force that was he was at his peak, but he’s still one of the league’s best playmakers.

Securing Harden was an important part of the Clippers’ offseason plans. Now the question is whether or not they will be able to retain Paul George in free agency as well. George will reportedly meet with the Clippers on Sunday, but he also has reported meetings lined up with the Philadelphia 76ers and Orlando Magic. The Sixers are reportedly growing confident in their chances to lure him away.

Back in January, Leonard said that he signed his extension with the expectation that both Harden and George would stay. Reportedly, though, the Clippers have been unwilling to offer George a deal longer than Leonard’s, and this has been the sticking point in their negotiations. Now that Harden is on this kind of deal, will the Clippers continue to hold firm? The argument for giving George four years is simple: By investing this much money in Leonard and now Harden, it is clear that the franchise is committed to competing for a championship now. If Los Angeles is willing to give George as many as three years, then it will have to live with the heavy restrictions of the new collective-bargaining agreement anyway. Giving him what he wants is better than watching him walk.

We’ll find out relatively soon just how serious the Clippers are about playing hardball. One has to wonder, though, if the uncertainty around George has anything to do with Harden getting a player option.

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top