Paul George of the Los Angeles Clippers met with Houston Rockets guard Jalen Green on his “Podcast P with Paul George” YouTube show. The eight-time All-Star explained to Green why he believes the Rockets should avoid signing James Harden this 2023 offseason.
“Personally, I wouldn’t [pursue Harden],” George told Green. “At this point, that’s your [team]. Like, you’re the king of Houston. They made their decision on who the future is. When you pick a guy with the fourth pick, he’s our guy.”
According to a few NBA betting sites, the Denver Nuggets are the favorite to win the championship. Sportsbooks have not yet ruled out the Boston Celtics in their Eastern Conference Finals series against the Miami Heat.
“They full-on committed to who the future is,” Paul George added. “Like you got to go through this. You got to go through being double-teamed, triple-teamed, being a target every time. And you gotta go through that.
“You bring on someone like James, who’s such a ball-dominant player, that’s gonna hinder your growth a little bit. You know what I mean? Regardless of how it can elevate you on another level of him teaching you and you learning off of him, I feel like for you, you’ve already been through the fire. So, let you continue to learn.”
Clippers’ Paul George believes if the Rockets sign James Harden this offseason, it will hinder the growth of younger players
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst is under the impression that Harden is bluffing as well. The Philadelphia 76ers guard has a $35.64 million player option for the 2023-24 season. If he opts out, the 14-year veteran could sign a max deal to remain with the Sixers.
“I also think that both of them, Kyrie [Irving] showing up to Laker games, James Harden being rumored to be attached to the [Houston] Rockets, I still think/suspect all of that is one giant leverage play,” Windhorst said.
Paul George is right in a sense. In addition to Green’s growth, Jabari Smith Jr. and Jae’Sean Tate need to develop on their own. John Wall ran into a similar issue during the 2021-22 season spent with Houston. Wall sat out because he knew he would receive less playing time.
Teams around the league believes a James Harden return to Houston is ‘certain,’ per @NBADraftWass
The Rockets are unlikely to trade up for Scoot Henderson. pic.twitter.com/tlqmlRzvIV
— NBACentral (@TheNBACentral) May 23, 2023
“That, what James Harden really wants is to elicit the biggest offer out of the Sixers even if it isn’t a max [contract],” Windhorst mentioned.
Per the BetOnline sportsbook, if Harden were to leave the Sixers this offseason, the Rockets (-400) are the favorites to sign the three-time scoring champ. The Phoenix Suns (+300) hold second-shortest odds, followed by the Dallas Mavericks (+1400) and Miami Heat (+1600).
Of course, the Clippers (+2000) have eighth-ranked odds of signing Harden this offseason. The 76ers guard could end up playing alongside Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and reunite with former Oklahoma City Thunder teammate Russell Westbrook.