It had been relatively quiet on the James Harden trade demand front. The 10-time All-Star reported to training camp without incident, had been practicing with the Sixers, and told reporters last week he was ramping up to play in the preseason finale Friday.
A lot can change in a few days.
Sam Amick of The Athletic brought to light more with where negotiations stand Wednesday evening. You’ll recall it was Amick who a couple weeks ago provided insight into L.A.’s offer and what the Sixers were looking for in a deal.
In his latest piece, Amick reveals the biggest hold up: the Clippers’ refusal to include guard Terance Mann.
“Despite the Sixers indicating that they would accept an offer of a Clippers’ unprotected first-round pick, first-round pick swap, players to match the salaries and Mann, two people involved in the negotiations say Clippers president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank reiterated the team’s stance that Mann would not be part of their offer.”
To recap, Mann is a 27-year-old role player who has been in and out of head coach Tyronn Lue’s rotation. He’s currently competing with Nicolas Batum and Robert Covington for a starting spot. He is a fine player. He’s an athletic Swiss Army knife that could certainly help many teams.
But for L.A. to view him as untouchable in this scenario does feel a little silly.
Morey apparently agrees.
“Morey, those people say, expressed his disbelief and accused the Clippers of being “unserious” about getting a deal done. He even quipped that they should just trade Clippers star Paul George for Harden if they were so determined to keep all of their lesser assets — a request that was immediately denied.”
“Unserious” is a word that’s been thrown around a lot to describe the Clippers recently. If the only holdup is Mann — again, a fine player — then that word is apt.
L.A. has two stars in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George that have struggled to stay healthy and aren’t getting any younger. The Clippers were knocked out of the first round of the playoffs last year and failed to make the postseason the previous year while they were ravaged by injuries. They made no major changes this offseason. If ever a team needed to make a big move, it’s the Clippers.
But they won’t because they refuse to give up a guy that played 23.1 minutes a game last season.
Another interesting note from Amick is that the Sixers evidently don’t even want Mann to play for them. They’re looking to move him for another asset in their pursuit of a star-level player.
“Philadelphia is known to already have trades lined up in which it would receive a first-round pick in exchange for Mann.
The Sixers’ goal from there would be to make those assets part of a subsequent offer for the All-Star-caliber player of their choosing later in the season. It’s an imperfect post-Harden plan, but one they believe is fair to all parties considering the limited value they would be receiving for a player of Harden’s magnitude.”
While Amick suggests that Morey could look to add an All-Star-caliber player ahead of the deadline, you can’t rule out the Sixers saving those picks for the offseason. The cap space plan could be used for a max free agent, but it could also be useful if a disgruntled player asks to be dealt this offseason. The team would be able to take back a significant salary without having to part with players on the roster.
Amick also writes that the Sixers have been trying to tell Harden that he should be directing his vitriol to the Clippers, who apparently don’t value him enough to include Mann in a deal. There is an irony in Harden not feeling as though he was valued by Morey only for L.A. to seemingly undervalue him in a trade.
So, that’s where we are. The Sixers seem to have a reasonable ask while the Clippers appear unserious in their attempts to acquire The Beard.