Large Gap Remains Between Sixers, Clippers in James Harden Trade Talks

While James Harden has requested a trade to the Clippers, there appears to be a standstill, as the Clippers are unable to meet the 76ers’ asking price at the moment.James Harden drives by Nicolas Batum

The current unrest between Harden and the 76ers organization stems from the offseason drama that led Harden to say that his relationship with president of basketball operations Daryl Morey is “beyond repair.”

Harden has not changed his stance since calling Morey a “liar” and demanding a trade, for thereafter, he has held out by not attending any of the Sixers’ preseason games. To note, these public trade demand comments from Harden led to a $100,000 fine from the NBA and were followed up by the Sixers saying they were attempting to still make it work with Harden this season. This may be a one-sided relationship, given the fact Harden publicly vowed to “never be a part of an organization that he (Morey) is a part of.”

Morey stated the Sixers are “working with his (Harden’s) representation to resolve that in the best way for the 76ers and hopefully all parties.” Since the season is only a week away, one has to wonder what will transpire regarding this turbulent situation, which appears to be irreparable between the front office and its star guard.

Per Shams Charania of the Athletic, the reason behind Harden making the decision this past June to opt into his $35.64 million, one-year deal was so the team could discuss possible trade destinations. So as can be seen with the timeline of the summer, Harden feels the 76ers did not hold up their end of the agreement, and this is what spilled over to become the turmoil that now exists.

As of right now, Harden is adamant about wanting to return to his hometown in Los Angeles to join the Clippers. With that being said, as Harden is set to be an unrestricted free agent next summer, one has to wonder what a team that’s current roster is already constructed to be a contender, can give up for the 34-year-old former MVP. It appears the Clippers are neither able nor willing to give up plenty of assets at the moment, and the trade talks between the two teams remain stagnant. That is to say, even if the Clippers and Sixers were able to negotiate and come to an agreement on the terms of a deal, it would most likely not give the Sixers a star-caliber guard replacement for Harden this season.

Philadelphia is no stranger to this kind of drama, as Ben Simmons sat out most of the 2021-22 season before being traded to the Nets in exchange for Harden. Nevertheless, in this case, the 76ers may have leverage regarding Harden’s holdout, as he may need to prove himself on the court since he is getting up there in age, heading into his 15th season in the NBA.

In 58 games for the 76ers last season, Harden averaged 21 points (44.1% FG, 38.5% 3P), 10.7 assists and 6.1 rebounds per game. And the season ended after losing a seven-game series to the Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals. In the hope that Harden puts his differences aside with the front office and takes the court in a 76ers uniform this season, there is no doubt that the team, also led by the reigning league MVP Joel Embiid, is a top contender in the East this season. 

As Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports wrote: “James Harden’s request to join the Clippers remains ongoing, although there appears to be a significant gap between Los Angeles and Philadelphia in the two teams’ negotiations.” 

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