Greater than a month after choosing up his $35.6 million participant choice with the intention of being traded, James Harden stays a member of the Philadelphia 76ers. There isn’t any signal of that altering any time quickly, both.
Group president Daryl Morey went on 97.5 The Fanatic in mid-July and instructed host Anthony Gargano that he was “making an attempt to honor” Harden’s commerce request, however he would not simply give him away for peanuts.
“All I do know is that we both are gonna transfer him for a participant that helps us win now, we’re gonna get property that enable us to go get an excellent participant within the quick time period, or we’re gonna proceed to attend,” Morey stated.
By all accounts, Harden desires the Sixers to commerce him to the Los Angeles Clippers. In line with Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports activities, “Harden and his illustration opted in to pinpoint Los Angeles as his subsequent vacation spot and have maintained a confidence he’ll finally be a part of the Clippers.” The Sixers have not had “substantial commerce dialog” with every other group concerning Harden, “as rival entrance places of work have been briefed on Harden’s unwavering concentrate on the Clippers and the Clippers alone,” Fischer added.
There’s only one downside: The Clippers do not seem as set on buying Harden as Harden is on becoming a member of them.
In late July, Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice stated the Clippers “have been pretty unserious about what they’re prepared to surrender with a purpose to purchase him.” Fischer reported that the Clippers “do not have curiosity” in parting with 27-year-old guard Terance Mann as a part of a Harden commerce, which begs the query of what they are prepared to supply.
On the July 31 version of NBA As we speak, ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk described the Clippers as being in “wait-and-see mode” with regard to a Harden commerce. He echoed Fischer’s reporting in regards to the Clippers wanting to maintain Mann out of these commerce talks, too.
“I believe if the Clippers need him, it is gonna be for a sure bundle,” Youngmisuk added. “A minimum of that is what they need.”
Desperation might start to creep in for either side as soon as the calendar flips to September and coaching camp begins approaching. The Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors and Dallas Mavericks all made substantial upgrades this offseason, whereas the Clippers stood comparatively pat. It is honest to surprise how assured they’re about their placement within the Western Convention hierarchy. (They at present have the fifth-best odds to win the West, in line with FanDuel Sportsbook.)
In the meantime, Harden is starting to trace at what would possibly occur if the Sixers do not commerce him within the subsequent two months. He is at present anticipated to report back to coaching camp, in line with Fischer, albeit maybe with the intention of expediting an eventual commerce.
“You possibly can trigger way more complications for the group you’re making an attempt to go away by exhibiting up, versus staying dwelling,” Fischer wrote.
Harden has a historical past of creating a scene when he is disgruntled and making an attempt to drive his means off a group. With star heart Joel Embiid maybe starting to query his personal long-term future in Philadelphia, it is honest to surprise how far the Sixers are prepared to go along with Harden earlier than pulling the set off on a commerce.
Then once more, they could be making an attempt to name his bluff.
Harden turns 34 towards the top of August. As a result of size of his present contract, he is ineligible to signal an extension with the Sixers or any group that trades for him between now and the February commerce deadline. He’s subsequently assured to turn into an unrestricted free agent subsequent summer season.
Since Harden could be solely a one-year rental, that would deter groups from placing forth the blockbuster bundle Morey desires for him. However since Harden is eyeing maybe his final huge NBA payday, he theoretically cannot afford to throw this season away by moping and loafing.
Harden already has a regarding historical past of playoff collapses all through his profession, and he seems to have misplaced some burst whether or not as a consequence of age, a hamstring damage from a couple of years in the past or some mixture of the 2. Forcing his means off his third group in as many seasons—and wanting to go away the reigning MVP—raises extra query than solutions about his main motivation at this level in his profession.
Regardless of that, Harden remains to be an excellent participant. Though he missed out on All-Star and All-NBA nods this previous season, he completed the yr having averaged 21.0 factors and a league-high 10.7 assists per sport. He additionally put up 45 factors on 17-of-30 capturing sans Embiid of their Sport 1 upset of the Boston Celtics on the street and had 42 factors on 16-of-23 capturing, 9 assists, eight rebounds and the game-winning three-pointer of their Sport 4 extra time victory.
Nonetheless, Harden is now not the no-brainer max-contract man that he has been all through most of his NBA profession. The brand new collective bargaining settlement’s restrictions for groups nicely above the luxury-tax threshold brought about some entrance places of work to tighten their purse strings this offseason, and figures to carry true subsequent summer season as nicely. Though it’s miles too early to start mapping out potential free-agent touchdown spots for Harden subsequent offseason—lots will change between every now and then—the Sixers are at present the one contender that initiatives to have max cap area in 2024.
Whichever group trades for Harden will purchase his Chicken rights, in order that they’ll be allowed to go over the wage cap to re-sign him subsequent summer season. Based mostly on how the present free-agent panorama seems to be in 2024, that could be Harden’s main motivation to drive a commerce now. If the Houston Rockets—who had been reportedly eyeing a reunion with him this summer season—rebuffed him to signal Fred VanVleet as a substitute, who’s to say that Harden may have a strong free-agent market subsequent yr? He would possibly discover himself proper again on this similar spot, besides and not using a participant choice to fall again on this time.
If Harden is resolute about maximizing his earnings subsequent summer season, he’ll should show himself worthy of such a deal this upcoming season, whether or not in Philadelphia or elsewhere. Except the Clippers or one other group all of the sudden really feel the urge to fulfill Morey’s asking value, this ready sport might bleed nicely into the common season.