Blockbuster Trade: Harden Traded to Clippers for Two First-Round Picks and Multiple Role Players

Courtesy of Basketball Forever

The Philadelphia 76ers finally granted James Harden’s request on Tuesday.

The 76ers traded Harden, PJ Tucker, and Filip Petrusev to the Los Angeles Clippers, acquiring in return Nicolas Batum, Robert Covington, Kenyon Martin Jr., Marcus Morris, a 2028 unprotected first-round pick, two second-round picks, and a first-round pick swap. The Sixers also acquired another pick from a third team, Oklahoma City Thunder. The Clippers traded their 2027 First Round Pick to OKC, so the Thunder can send another first-round pick to the 76ers.

The Clippers stood firm despite the Sixers asking for Terrance Mann in the deal, too. 

During the offseason, Harden initially sought a contract with the Houston Rockets, who requested a trade a few years ago. 

The Houston Rockets instead signed Fred Vanvleet, a former Toronto Raptors star guard, for three years and $130 million. Consequently, Harden opted into his $35.6 million player option and requested a trade to the Clippers. A player option occurs in the last year of a player’s contract, allowing the player to decide whether to accept or decline the contract and become a free agent.

When the Sixers’ trade talks ended in August, Harden voiced his disgruntled attitude towards Sixers executive Daryl Morey, calling him a “liar.”

“I will never be a part of an organization that he’s a part of,” stated Harden.

August marked the third time Harden asked for a trade since Jan. 2021. A trade was inevitable after Harden’s public outlash, and Harden was reportedly “ecstatic” after he was traded from the Sixers. 

Harden will join former Rockets teammate Russell Westbrook, as well as multiple-time all-stars Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. The Clippers gain a bona fide passer, as Harden led the league in assists last year (10.7). 

The Clippers have been in dire need of a competent passer ever since acquiring Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in the 2019 offseason. They have tried starting different players such as Reggie Jackson and Rajon Rondo; however, these point guards do not possess enough ept to fill the Clippers’ weaknesses. 

Harden could improve the Clippers’ playmaking and passing abilities, bolstering a chance to win an NBA championship in the 2024 season. 

The Sixers finally resolved the offseason’s drama by trading Harden away. 

The picks they received from the Clippers could be used to trade for another unsatisfied star or to draft young talent. The Sixers also gained multiple forwards who are also competent defenders and catch-and-shoot three-point shooters, especially Covington, Morris, and Batum. In the past few years, the Sixers have lacked these skills. 

As Morris, Covington, and Batum are all on expiring contracts, the Sixers have financial flexibility for upcoming free-agency pursuits with $50 million or more in cap space next summer. The team will have a chance to sign upcoming free agents like Pascal Siakam and Demar Derozan. In order for the trade to work, the Sixers waived Danny Green. 

The Harden trade holds potential for both teams. Next season will tell if the Clippers or Sixers win the trade.

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