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Several months of drama and speculation have ended, as the Los Angeles Clippers have acquired shooting guard James Harden in a trade with the Philadelphia 76ers.
In addition to Harden, the Clippers will add small forward P.J. Tucker and power forward Filip Petrusev to the deal.
The 76ers will get two first-round picks (2026 protected and 2028 unprotected), two second-round picks (2024 and 2029), and a 2029 pick swap in the Harden trade. The deal also entails the Clippers sending four role players to the 76ers, including veteran forwards Marcus Morris, Robert Covington, Nic Batum, and K.J. Martin.
The Oklahoma City Thunder facilitated the trade with a first-round pick swap involving the Clippers. The Clippers will send a 2027 first-round pick to the Thunder, and the Thunder will send a 2026 protected first-round pick to the 76ers.
Harden: Going Back to Cali
Harden, 34, triggered a player option for the final year of his contract worth $35.6 million. He opted in under the assumption that the 76ers would trade him.
When 76ers general manager Daryl Morey could not work out a trade this summer, an impatient Harden called Morey a liar during an appearance at a basketball camp in China. Morey’s initial asking price for Harden was too high, and the Clippers balked. Other teams lost interest because they didn’t want to gamble on a one-season rental with no guarantees that Harden will re-up with them next season.
Harden grew up in Los Angeles and wanted to return to his hometown and play for the Clippers. He joins former teammate point guard Russell Westbrook, swingman Paul George and forward Kawhi Leonard. The four All-Stars will attempt to deliver the Clippers their first championship in franchise history.
George, Harden, and Westbrook are among the longest-tenured NBA stars who have never won a championship.
76ers Clear Cap Space; Seek a Guard
Now that Harden is gone, the 76ers can resume their quest for a championship under reigning MVP Joel Embiid. Despite trade rumors to the New York Knicks, the 76ers will look to add a shooting guard to replace Harden.
Harden had yet to play this season for the 76ers, who are 2-1 in three games under new head coach Nick Nurse. Even without Harden, the 76ers had a top-six offense that averaged 119 points per game this season behind Embiid and point guard Tyrese Maxey.
Morey added role players and significant draft capital in the Harden trade, which he could flip in another trade for a shooting guard.
“We could go (trade Harden) for something where we get enough draft picks and things like that in a deal such that we can then turn those into a player who can be a running mate with Joel as well,” Morey said in the preseason.
Buddy Hield from the Indiana Pacers has been the subject of trade rumors, along with Malcolm Brogdon from the Portland Trail Blazers.
The 76ers cleared $13.4 million in luxury tax, and they’re now just under $5 million, compared to nearly $20 million before the Harden trade.
If Morey doesn’t work out another trade for a top player this season, he has the financial flexibility to add multiple players next season. The 76ers could clear anywhere between $50 million and $65 million in cap space next season due to all of their expiring contracts.
NBA Futures Market After the Harden Trade
Before the trade, both the Clippers and 76ers were +1700 odds to win the 2023-24 NBA Championship. After the trade, the 76ers slipped to +1800, and the Clippers moved to +1200.
The Clippers, who also began the season at 2-1, are currently fifth overall on the NBA futures board at DraftKings. The Boston Celtics are the consensus favorite at +350 odds, followed by the Milwaukee Bucks with Damian Lillard. The defending champion Denver Nuggets are third overall at +500 odds and just ahead of the Phoenix Suns at +700. Even though the Suns added All-Star Bradley Beal in a blockbuster trade, he has yet to suit up because of a back injury.
The 76ers are +800 odds to win the Eastern Conference, and the Clippers improved to +700 odds to win the Western Conference after the Harden trade.
The 76ers didn’t see any change in their divisional odds. The Celtics are still the favorite to win the Atlantic Division at -300, and the 76ers remain at +350 odds.
The Clippers saw another boost in their odds to win the Pacific Division. Before the trade, they were +550 odds to win the division and fourth overall on the board. After the trade, the Clippers saw an uptick to +400 and moved to second on the board. The Suns remain the favorite to win the Pacific Division at +135 odds.
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