The Los Angeles Clippers are a dark-horse team in the James Harden sweepstakes this offseason, according to The Athletic’s Kelly Iko.
Iko, who covers the Houston Rockets, revealed some intel during a Twitter live stream.
The IkoSystem — Rockets Free Agency Preview https://t.co/dL2cgzWr5T
— Kelly Iko (@KellyIko) June 28, 2023
“Another team that I’ve heard recently is a dark horse and kind of watching the situation is the Los Angeles Clippers,” Iko said during the Twitter live stream.
It had previously been reported that Harden was “torn” between staying with the Philadelphia 76ers or signing with the Rockets – one of his old teams – this offseason. Harden won an MVP and had some of the best seasons of his career in Houston.
While he is no longer the same player that he was during his time in Houston, Harden still has been effective for the Sixers. During the 2022-23 season, the 10-time All-Star averaged 21.0 points, 6.1 rebounds and 10.7 assists per game while shooting 44.1 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from beyond the arc.
The Clippers could be an interesting fit for Harden since the team already has two stars in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Both players have struggled to stay healthy, which could be a reason for the team to bring in a third star like Harden to help if Leonard or George miss time in the 2023-24 season.
The Clippers wouldn’t be able to sign Harden outright since they are over the salary cap, so they would have to find a way to trade for him.
While Harden ultimately has to be the one to make a decision, the Clippers can offer him something that Houston can’t – a proven playoff team around him.
The Rockets are a much younger team that has struggled ever since Harden was traded to the Brooklyn Nets.
The Sixers have a playoff-caliber team as well, led by reigning MVP Joel Embiid, so Harden certainly has a tough decision on his hands. Philly made the second round of the playoffs in the 2022-23 season but lost to the Boston Celtics in seven games.
Last offseason, Harden signed a two-year deal with the Sixers with the second season holding a player option. If he declines the player option, Harden will become an unrestricted free agent.