In a move that has been long-anticipated, the Philadelphia 76ers have agreed to trade their star guard, James Harden, to the LA Clippers. The confirmation of this trade brings an end to a turbulent chapter in the NBA, with numerous reports and quotes shedding light on the contentious relationship between Harden and the 76ers’ management, particularly President of Basketball Operations, Daryl Morey.
Harden, a 10-time All-Star and former league MVP, made it clear that he wanted out of Philadelphia months ago. The genesis of this desire for a trade stemmed from a lack of communication and contract negotiations between Harden and the 76ers during the offseason. As reported, Harden, who had a one-year player option remaining on his contract, expected a long-term deal from the team. However, when this offer did not materialize, he chose to exercise his $35.6 million player option for the 2023-24 season and conveyed his desire to be traded to the Clippers, his preferred destination.
The discord between Harden and the 76ers became public knowledge when, during a promotional event in China, Harden openly criticized Morey, referring to him as “a liar.” Harden’s return to the team’s training camp was short-lived, and he had yet to play a game for the 76ers this season despite being present on the bench for some games.
In a surprising turn of events, it seems that the Clippers and the 76ers have now reached an agreement on the trade. While the full details of the deal are yet to be disclosed, it is understood that the 76ers will be sending James Harden, P.J. Tucker, and Filip Petrušev to the Clippers in exchange for Nicolas Batum, Robert Covington, Kenyon Martin Jr., Marcus Morris, multiple draft picks, and a pick swap. This trade is the latest in a series of moves involving Harden since 2020, showcasing his fluid journey through the league.
This trade also signifies a break in the longstanding partnership between Harden and Daryl Morey, who played pivotal roles in each other’s careers. Morey had traded for Harden twice, first during his tenure with the Houston Rockets in 2012 and then again in February 2021, when he facilitated Harden’s move to the 76ers in exchange for Ben Simmons. Their close relationship was evident, with Morey publicly acknowledging the profound impact Harden had on his life.
However, the strained negotiations this summer put an end to their camaraderie. The 76ers broke off trade discussions involving Harden, expressing their expectation that he would return to training camp. Harden’s response was acrimonious, accusing Morey of dishonesty and asserting, “Daryl Morey is a liar, and I will never be a part of an organization that he’s a part of.”
With this trade, the Clippers have secured the services of one of the league’s premier talents, who will bolster their efforts to compete for the championship. Meanwhile, the 76ers find themselves at a crossroads, as they must regroup and rebuild their roster to satisfy reigning MVP Joel Embiid, who had struggled to find suitable co-stars in both Harden and Simmons.