James Harden is reportedly eyeing a long-term contract with the Los Angeles Clippers, with the intention of concluding his career with the team, as per reports from Bleacher Report and TNT’s Chris Haynes during Tuesday’s game between the Clippers and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The seasoned point guard is set to become an unrestricted free agent after the culmination of the 2023-24 season.
This scenario may sound familiar, and rightfully so. In October, before orchestrating his departure from Philadelphia, Harden expressed his desire to retire as a member of the 76ers. However, this plan did not align with the franchise’s future vision, leading to his eventual move.
This is not the first time Harden has entertained the idea of concluding his career with his current team. In 2021, Brooklyn Nets governor Joe Tsai revealed that Harden had conveyed his wish to finish his career in Brooklyn. Despite not securing any championships, this aspiration ended with Harden forcing a trade to Philadelphia.
Going further back, in 2017, after signing an extension with the Houston Rockets, Harden spoke optimistically about staying with the team, emphasizing the rare feeling of being at home and not wanting to deal with free agency. Yet, none of these sentiments materialized in Houston, Brooklyn, or Philadelphia.
Now, as he eyes a long-term stint with the Clippers, potential obstacles arise. The team has already committed a substantial amount to Kawhi Leonard, and ongoing talks with Paul George may further strain their financial flexibility. The question of whether the 34-year-old Harden, currently the team’s third-best player, is worthy of a max deal looms large. Despite averaging 17.0 points and 8.4 assists per game, his performance suggests a notable decline.
Furthermore, the Clippers would potentially need to navigate financial complexities to offer Harden the desired long-term, max extension. Whether they are willing to make such financial commitments or if roster adjustments can accommodate this remains to be seen. If not, the notion of retiring with the Clippers may quickly fade into obscurity.