2: Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers haven’t been the team that people thought they would be. Los Angeles is playing without Kawhi Leonard (ACL) and Paul George (UCL). And according to Nicolas Batum, the two could return either at the end of February or in early March.
The team’s record is 26-26 and they sit in sixth place in the Western Conference. The East is far more competitive than the West this year and even without their top-two players, a playoff spot is still likely. After all, if the season ended today, the Clippers would be in the playoffs.
Who could give Los Angeles an extra push? Harden. He was born and raised in the area and could be willing to spend a long-term stint in the place where his love for the game began.
However, that’d mean that the team would have to be willing to give up something big in return. What about George? He’s been with the Clippers since 2019-20 and has yet to play more than 65% of the season (54 games).
Or Los Angeles could give up a number of its other players. Serge Ibaka made the cut for Kevin Durant’s top-five teammates of all-time and there have been rumors that he won’t be with the Clippers for much longer.
A Big Three of Harden, Leonard, and George would be mind-boggling. It all depends on who and what Los Angeles is willing to move on from though.