Sat. May 25th, 2024

It took more than four months, but the Philadelphia 76ers finally agreed to trade James Harden.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported, just after 2 a.m. on the East Coast, that the 76ers had agreed to trade Harden to the Los Angeles Clippers. The team had long been Harden’s preferred destination, but the two teams’ trade talks had failed to make a deal after The Beard simultaneously opted into his $35.6 million salary for 2023-24 and demanded a trade.

But after four contentious months, featuring Harden calling Sixers president Daryl Morey a “liar” in China, Harden mysteriously leaving the team just before the season and security preventing Harden from boarding the team plane for their road trip, the Harden Era in Philadelphia is over.

Philadelphia traded for Harden in Feb. 2022, after he requested a trade. That was 13 months after Brooklyn traded for Harden after he requested a trade from the Houston Rockets. This time, Harden made it 16 months before his trade request, which may have been motivated by the 76ers’ refusal to offer him a maximum contract extension — and the Rockets’ unwillingness to sign him as well.

Now Harden will join Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in his native Los Angeles, along with Russell Westbrook, who has been Harden’s teammate in Houston and Oklahoma City. All four of the Clippers’ veteran former All-Stars are in the final year of their contracts, which will present some interesting decisions this summer as the Clippers prepare to move into their new arena, the Intuit Dome, next fall.

Not only that, the Clippers are adding veteran P.J. Tucker — and the two years and $22.6 million remaining on his deal — as part of the trade.

The Sixers will add Marcus Morris, Nic Batum and Robert Covington, all veterans on expiring deals, along with 22-year-old KJ Martin, who the Clippers acquired earlier in the summer. Covington began his career for Morey’s Rockets, before playing more than four seasons for the Sixers from 2014-19.

Philadelphia also adds draft picks and a swap and preserves Morey’s plan for creating massive cap space this summer. The Clippers do retain Terance Mann, once the linchpin of a Harden deal for Philly, along with wing scorer Norman Powell.

Harden is a ten-time All-Star and the league MVP in 2018, but his last few seasons have been marked by playoff disappointments and Harden forcing his way off teams. In his last six years of playoff elimination games, Harden has averaged five turnovers and shot less than 25 percent from three-point range. Last year, he shot 7-for-27 and 1-for-11 from deep in the Sixers’ last two losses to Boston, averaging just ten points.

Regardless, the Clippers are getting James Harden to pair with an old, injury-prone but dangerous veteran core. And best of all for the Clippers, since they made the trade in late October, Harden doesn’t have time to get disgruntled a demand a trade before February. Although if anyone could do it, it’s Harden.

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