By: Nadia Liu
The LA Clippers acquired ten-time All-Star point guard James Harden from the Philadelphia 76ers in a blockbuster trade announced on Nov. 1. The Clippers received Harden, P.J. Tucker, and Filip Petrusev from the 76ers in exchange for Marcus Morris, Robert Covington, Nic Batum, KJ Martin, a 2028 unprotected first-round pick, 2024 and 2029 second-round picks, and a 2029 pick swap. According to ESPN sources, the Clippers are also sending a 2027 first-round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder, clearing the way for the Thunder to move a 2026 protected first-round pick to the 76ers. In order to make roster room, Philadelphia waived veteran guard Danny Green.
The trade follows a messy relationship between Harden and the Sixers’ front office. In 2021, the Houston Rockets traded Harden to the Brooklyn Nets to play alongside Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. The Nets expected the players, nicknamed the Big Three, to lead Brooklyn to a championship. However, when the Big Three fizzled out, the Nets traded Harden to the Sixers in exchange for a disgruntled Ben Simmons.
Harden’s complaints about the Sixers stem from his belief that he should have earned a long-term contract with the team after last season, which never came, so Harden demanded a trade: “I wanted to be here and retire a Sixer, and the front office didn’t have that in their future plans. It’s literally out of my control. It’s something I didn’t want to happen to be in this position.”
This year, Harden picked up his 35.6 million dollar option and promptly demanded to be traded. Trade negotiations stalled, further souring Harden and Sixers President Daryl Morey’s relationship. At a promotional event in China this August, Harden declared, “Daryl Morey is a liar and I will never be a part of an organization that he’s a part of.” At his introductory news conference at the Clippers’ facility, Harden said he felt he was “on a leash” and sacrificed millions of dollars as well as his playing style during his time with the 76ers, adding, “I’m not a system player. I am a system.”
Harden joins All-Star guard Russell Westbrook — who previously played with Harden on the OKC Thunder and Houston Rockets — as well as All-Star forwards Kawhi Leonard and Paul George on the Clippers. In his long-awaited Clippers debut on Nov. 6, Harden made six of nine shots and finished with 17 points and six assists in 31 minutes. Although the Clippers lost to the New York Knicks by 14 points, the team felt optimistic about the future, with George saying, “We’ll figure it out. First game. Playing on the court with those guys was fun and a lot of optimism going forward.” Clippers coach Ty Lue also expressed his confidence: “Making the right play, making the right pass and pick-and-rolls, he was really good. It’s going to take him a little time to get in game shape. We understand that, but his presence on the floor was definitely felt.”
(Sources: AP News, ESPN, NBA, Yahoo Sports)