Nearly a week ago, it was announced that James Harden would exercise his $35.6 million player option for the 2023-24 season, with the intention to be dealt elsewhere and had his eyes set on the Los Angeles Clippers. Since then, not much has happened on that front. Harden remains with the Philadelphia 76ers, while the Los Angeles Clippers haven’t landed the former MVP.
During the latest episode of “The Lowe Post,” ESPN’s Zach Lowe touched on Harden’s market around the league and why the Clippers and Sixers are far apart in trade negotiations. Lowe’s comments succeeded a discussion with John Hollinger about Damian Lillard’s fit in Philadelphia and the process behind facilitating any sort of deal there.
“I have heard, I just don’t think there’s a lot out there for James Harden. I just don’t sense that there’s a big appetite among teams to trade Philadelphia real stuff. The reason why the Dame Lillard name comes up for Philly is, like, I kinda need real stuff because the other dude on my team is the MVP [Joel Embiid] and if he gets unhappy or unhappier than he already might be, I’m just fucked.”
“I don’t think the [Miami] Heat are super interested in James Harden. They’re obviously focused elsewhere. I don’t think the [New York] Knicks are super interested in James Harden. If they could get him on the ultra, ultra cheap, that’s one thing. I don’t know that Philly wants to do that. The Clippers, from what I’ve heard, they have been reluctant so far to offer [Terance] Mann, picks, maybe even [Norman] Powell, and I don’t know that the two sides have really even had super significant dialogue, and I don’t really know what you do from there.”
As unappealing as running it back with the same starting unit as last season rightfully may be among Sixers fans, it’s hard to see the benefits of any move centered around the Clippers’ three expiring contract players: Marcus Morris Sr., Nicolas Batum and Robert Covington. That’s a major downgrade and Philadelphia is shrewd to try and nab at least some combination of Mann, Powell and a future first-round pick.