What's Next for Ex-Rockets Star James Harden?

After another disappointing playoff outing, what's next for former Houston Rockets star James Harden?
Apr 12, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA;  Los Angeles Clippers guard James Harden (1) warms up
Apr 12, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard James Harden (1) warms up / Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

HOUSTON — The Los Angeles Clippers were eliminated from the 2024 NBA playoffs Friday night. They lost 114-101 in Game 6 to the Dallas Mavericks inside the American Airlines Center.

The Clippers, who have been in championship contention since they acquired Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in 2019, fell short of their desires for the fifth consecutive year. However, their failures also coincided with former Houston Rockets star James Harden. 

The 2018 league MVP winner forced his way to the Clippers in hopes of seeking his first championship ring after a failed two-year stint with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Harden's future is now uncertain as he enters free agency this offseason. He scored 16 points in Los Angeles' elimination game against the Mavericks. Over the previous two games to close the series, Harden averaged 11.5 points on 23.5 percent shooting from the field.  

According to The Athletic's Sam Amick and Law Murray, Harden wants to "continue" his career in Los Angeles with a new contract. However, re-signing Harden isn't the franchise's top objective, given that Paul George is on the verge of declining his 2024-25 option.

If the Clippers and Harden are unable to agree to a new deal, the soon-to-be 35-year-old guard will be in search of his fourth team since his jettison from Houston in January 2021.

The Rockets traded him to the Brooklyn Nets, and after a year, Harden made his way to the 76ers in February 2022. Harden then forced his way to Los Angeles in November after Philadelphia refused to sign him to a long-term deal. 

While appearing in 72 games for the Clippers, Harden averaged 16.6 points on 42.8 percent shooting from the field, 8.5 assists and 4.7 rebounds. Despite the solid numbers, Harden looks far from the four-time scoring champion who established himself as arguably the second-best player in Rockets history.

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Coty M. Davis