Clippers open free agency by re-signing James Harden

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James Harden agreed to a two-year, $70-million contract to remain with the Clippers, according to people with knowledge of the deal not authorized to speak on the matter.

The Clippers also agreed with free-agent guard Kevin Porter Jr. on a two-year deal, which includes a player option, according to people with knowledge of the situation not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

Harden averaged 16.6 points and 8.5 assists while shooting 42.8% from the field, 38.1% from three-point range, in 72 games with the Clippers.

He led the Clippers in scoring (21.2) and assists (8.0) in a first-round playoff series loss to the Dallas Mavericks.

“We think James has been terrific for us when we obtained him five games into the season,” Lawrence Frank, the Clippers’ president of basketball operations, said Thursday. “Thought he had a terrific season. … He’s been great in terms of even the offseason, coming in, working out, coming in two-a-days, getting extra work in.”

Harden, who will turn 35 in August, was acquired by the Clippers from Philadelphia in October after a falling out with Daryl Morey, the 76ers’ president of basketball operations, over Harden’s contract situation.

Harden believed he had earned a larger contract than the one under which he was playing. He eventually called Morey “a liar” regarding contract negotiations and demanded a trade, saying, “I will never be a part of an organization that he’s a part of.”

In four years in the NBA — three with the Houston Rockets — Porter averaged 15.3 points and shot 44.2% from the field.

After Porter was arrested last Sept. 11 for allegedly assaulting a female companion at a New York City hotel, the Houston Rockets banned him from team-related activities. The Rockets traded Porter to the Oklahoma City Thunder, who waived him.

Porter spent last season in Greece.

The Clippers learned Saturday that All-Star forward Paul George did not exercise the player option on his contract, which was worth $48.7 million. George is going to listen to offers from multiple teams, including the 76ers, Orlando Magic and Clippers.

The 76ers and the Magic, teams with salary-cap space, can offer George up to $212 million over four years.

George, a nine-time All-Star, played in 74 games last season, the most he had played since joining the Clippers. He averaged 22.6 points and 5.2 rebounds while shooting a career-high 41.3% from three-point range.

He averaged 19.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists in the first-round series against Dallas.

Former league MVP Russell Westbrook, also a nine-time All-Star, opted into the final year of his contract, worth $4 million, as did forward P.J. Tucker, worth $11.5 million.

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