NBA free agency: James Harden reportedly signing $70M deal to remain with Clippers

James Harden has a new deal. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

James Harden is staying with the Clippers.

The 10-time All-Star and former league MVP is signing a two-year, $70 million to remain in Los Angeles, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reports. The contract will include a player option in the second season, according to the report.

News of Harden’s deal arrived in the moments ahead of the start of NBA free agency on Sunday as Paul George’s future with the franchise remained unclear. George reportedly opted out of the remaining one year and $48.8 million on his Clippers contract Saturday to test free agency.

George reportedly made plans to meet with the Philadelphia 76ers and Orlando Magic in addition the Clippers. Retaining George alongside Harden and Kawhi Leonard is key to the Clippers’ hopes of competing for a championship next season.

At 34 years old, Harden’s not the same player who won three scoring titles and an MVP in his prime. He took on an unfamiliar role with the Clippers last season as the third scoring option behind Leonard and George.

His 16.6 points per game marked his lowest scoring average since he game off bench in Oklahoma City behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in 2011-12. It’s the first time since that season that he averaged fewer than 20 points per game.

He led the Clippers with 8.5 assists alongside 5.1 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game. His 4.8 free throw attempts per game were the third-fewest of his career.

Harden also had his healthiest campaign in years. He played 72 games for the Clippers, the first time he’s played more than 68 games since the 2018-19 season.

With Harden joining the Clippers as the third member of their big three, Los Angeles finished in fourth place in the West at 51-31. With Leonard hobbled and absent for four games, the Clippers suffered a disappointing first-round playoff loss to the eventual Western Conference champion Dallas Mavericks.

Harden’s still capable of putting up points when needed. He upped his scoring while averaging 21.2 points, eight assists and 4.5 rebounds per game with Leonard sidelined for most of that series. He scored 33 in a Game 4 road win against the Mavericks.

Harden’s individual career résumé is complete. But he’s still seeking his first NBA title as he approaches his 16th season.

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