September 7, 2023
Phildelphia 76ers Discussed James Harden Trade With Knicks And Clippers, But Are Stuck With Him
The Philadelphia 76ers have had a rocky offseason dominated by trade rumors surrounding point guard James Harden, who requested a trade in June and called Sixers owner Daryl Morey a liar during a trip to China in August.
ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reports that since Harden’s harsh words for Morey, for which Harden received a $100,000 fine from the NBA, the Sixers have stepped up efforts to trade the three-time scoring champion.
The Sixers locked in on the Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks in their attempt to trade Harden.
“(After the China outburst), Morey left Harden alone,” Shelburne wrote. “He said he would make a good faith effort to trade Harden and had initial conversations, league sources said, with Harden’s preferred team, the Clippers, as well as the New York Knicks.”
According to Shelburne, however, neither the Knicks nor Clippers were willing to meet Morey’s trade demands for Harden, so he remains in Philadelphia with less than two months to go before the start of the 2023-’24 NBA season.
Morey and Harden once had a strong working relationship, but money got in the way like many failed partnerships.
Morey, who was the general manager of the Houston Rockets from 2007 to 2020, brought Harden to Houston in 2012 from Oklahoma City. When Morey became president of basketball operations for the Sixers in 2020, he again traded for Harden, believing the move would revive his career.
Harden came to Philly thinking he would be compensated the same way he was in Houston. After his first season with the Sixers, Harden declined a player option and took $14 million less so the team could sign forward P.J. Tucker.
The move was sold to Harden as a sacrifice to improve the team, and Harden knew the Sixers were still evaluating him after the mid-season trade that brought him to Philadelphia.
With championship aspirations in 2022, Harden and the Sixers had a tough but solid season. He didn’t make the all-star team, breaking a 10-year streak. He took issue with it and ignored requests to be an injury replacement until it was too late, and Toronto Raptors Forward Pascal Siakim was named to the team instead. Additionally, Harden and Sixers Head Coach Doc Rivers bumped heads several times.
The Sixers were knocked out of the second round of the playoffs by the Boston Celtics, and Rivers was fired in May. Early in the offseason, Morey said signing Harden was the team’s top priority. Harden was eligible for a four-year, $210 million contract provided he declined his $35.6 million player option and became a free agent.
However, the Sixers were slow to offer him any deal, and Harden had little leverage as a potential return to the Houston Rockets broke down after they hired former Celtics Coach Ime Udoka. So, instead of waiting for Morey to offer him a deal, Harden signed the player option and requested a trade.
Three months later, the Sixers are still looking for a trade partner, and Harden is still looking to leave Philadelphia, and it’s anyone’s guess how the story will end.