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LAKERS REPORT: Why is James Harden the most likely NBA player where is LeBron

After another ringless postseason end, James Harden will be an unrestricted free agent. Would he entertain joining the Los Angeles Lakers for the next leg of his championship chase?

The latest odds via BetOnline list LeBron James and company as the third-likeliest landing spot for the former MVP at 6-to-1 odds.

If he doesn’t stay with the L.A. Clippers, Phoenix Suns have best odds to land him, says

Only the Phoenix Suns and Orlando Magic have better odds, at 4-to-1 and 5-to-1 respectively.

Harden averaged 16.6 points, 8.5 assists, 5.1 rebounds, and 1.1 steals in 72 starts with the LA Clippers this season.

But he flamed out in the playoffs, as did the Clippers. They were eliminated in six games by the Dallas Mavericks.

Harden posted just 23 points on 7-of-28 shooting from the field and 1-of-13 shooting from three in Game’s 5 and 6, both losses.

It wouldn’t be shocking to see both parties move on this summer, but early reports suggest he’s a priority for the Clippers.

In a May 3 column for The Athletic, insider Sam Amick detailed the upcoming offseason for the LA Clippers.

Among the many items on their agenda, are the looming contract negotiations with Harden.

Amick didn’t shy away from the presumed difficulty of the situation for both parties.

“Yet while team and league sources say that both sides want this partnership to continue,” Amick reported. “The aforementioned numbers crunch means there is a tricky conversation about the team’s finances to have here as well.”

He followed that up by reinforcing the fact that both sides want to get a deal done.

“Both sides, team and league sources say, want this relationship to continue,” Amick wrote.

The question of how much Harden is seeking on his next deal at age 34, remains unanswered and unreported.

As does his potential fit with the Lakers. But any question of his title chances, and whether or not they’d be improved across the pond, seems to have an obvious answer.

There’s a lot of parallels between the two Los Angeles franchises, but one difference that can’t be ignored.

Kawhi Leonard and Paul George appeared in 142 games this season. Anthony Davis and LeBron James appeared in 147.

But for further context, Leonard played in just 2 of the Clippers’ playoff games for the second year in a row.

Health has been the reoccurring theme in the franchise’s repeated downfall since George and Leonard’s arrival in LA. The duo has played just 26 of 42 possible postseason games together.

And while Davis and James haven’t been iron men by any stretch of the term, they’ve appeared together in 47 of 48 possible playoff games since joining up in the purple and gold.

Harden himself played in 72 games this year, his most since a 2018-2019 season with the Houston Rockets.

It paid off, with an immense, positive impact on the Clippers’ performance.

According to Cleaning the Glass, in 4,129 possessions with Harden on the court, LA outscored opponents by 5.9 points per 100 possessions.

Their 121.7 points per 100 possessions with the 10-time All-Star on the floor ranks in the 91st percentile of all NBA teams.

But with Harden off the floor, the Clippers’ offense scored just 115.7 points per 100 possessions, a 6-point swing. And a drop to just the 50th percentile of all teams.

The defense was predictably better with Harden off the floor, but the offense fell off a cliff.

There’s still a star air to James Harden’s game and his ability to run an offense.

If the stars align for him to join the Los Angeles Lakers, Anthony Davis and LeBron James would have their most qualified floor general yet.

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