Lakers Considered ‘Surprise Landing Spot’ for Former MVP in 2023

James Harden guards Giannis Antetokounmpo

Getty James Harden guards Giannis Antetokounmpo

The Los Angeles Lakers are considered a “surprise landing spot” for a former MVP.

In a May 24 article called “Surprise Landing Spots for Top 2023 NBA Free Agents,” Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report listed the Lakers as a potential landing spot for James Harden, who can become an unrestricted free agent this summer if he declines his 2023-24 player option with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report reported on May 17 that Harden intends to test free agency this offseason.

“The Lakers actually make a lot of sense for Harden, especially if Kyrie Irving re-signs with the Dallas Mavericks and L.A. has already seen enough out of D’Angelo Russell,” Swartz wrote. “A backcourt of Harden and Austin Reaves would lessen LeBron James’ ball-handling responsibilities, assuming he doesn’t retire, of course. Anthony Davis’ rim protection can make up for a lot of Harden’s defensive deficiencies on the perimeter as well.

“A Los Angeles native who played his high school basketball in the area until attending Arizona State, this would be a homecoming of sorts for Harden, who would have a real chance at winning his first title alongside James and Davis.”

Harden averaged 21.0 points and 10.7 assists this season for the Sixers while shooting 44.1% from the field, 38.5% from beyond the arc and 86.7% from the free-throw line. The 10-time All-Star led the NBA in assists per game for the second time in his career.

A three-time scoring champion, Harden has made over $301 million in his career.

Former NFL WR Keyshawn Johnson Would like to See James Harden on the Lakers

On the February 27 episode of the “KJM” show on ESPN, former NFL star wideout Keyshawn Johnson said Harden would fit on the Lakers next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis since he can shoot and pass the ball at a high level.

Johnson, one of the best players in NFL history, is a fan of the Lakers.

“Could Harden wind up looking out West where he’s from? Could that be an opportunity for him? I mean, he is a Southern California guy,” Johnson said. “Does he fit with a LeBron James? I mean, he could certainly run the offense. He’s certainly a shooter. What does LeBron always like to have around him? Shooters. So, I mean, I wouldn’t shy away from it. I’d rather have James Harden, me personally, than I would Kyrie (Irving).”

Harden and the Sixers lost to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in seven games. The Beard finished the 2023 postseason with averages of 20.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 8.3 assists in 11 games versus the Brooklyn Nets and Celtics.

The Lakers Could Replace D’Angelo Russell With James Harden

The Lakers could — and should — replace D’Angelo Russell with Harden, who will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer one day. Russell played poorly in the Western Conference Finals against the Denver Nuggets, averaging 6.3 points and 3.5 assists while shooting 32.3% from the floor and 13.3% from 3-point land.

According to Heavy Sports senior insider Sean Deveney, James is not a fan of Russell.

“I hate to say one playoff series can change a franchise’s whole outlook on a guy because that just does not happen, but it is happening with some of the people in that building, maybe most significantly, with LeBron,” one Western Conference executive told Deveney. “Is this a guy they want to invest in? Does LeBron want him back — there is talk that he is not Russell’s biggest fan.”

Russell becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer.

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