Philadelphia 76ers Deal James Harden to LA Clippers for Picks and Four Players
The drama surrounding James Harden's trade request came to a conclusion early on Tuesday morning.
According to a source who spoke with NBC Sports Philadelphia, the Sixers are trading Harden, PJ Tucker, and Filip Petrušev to the Los Angeles Clippers. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN broke the story first.
Robert Covington, Nicolas Batum, Marcus Morris Sr., KJ Martin, and additional compensation—which includes a 2028 unprotected first-round pick—are returned to the Sixers in the transaction. According to Wojnarowski, the team is releasing Danny Green to make room on the roster for the transaction to be completed.
The contracts of Morris, Martin, Batum, and Covington are about to expire.
Five years prior, Covington was a part of another significant Sixers deal when he was sent to the Timberwolves in exchange for Jimmy Butler. The versatile wing, who has played with the Sixers for five seasons, was named to the NBA's All-Defensive First Team for the 2017–18 campaign.
Martin, 22, and Morris, 34, are both from Philadelphia and are well-known for their agility and breathtaking dunks. Captain of the French national squad, Batum is a talented veteran.
In the end, Harden participated in 79 regular-season games with the Sixers after being dealt from Brooklyn to Philadelphia in February 2022, covering the whole NBA season.
The 10-time All-Star scored 45 points in the first game and 42 points in the fourth in the Sixers' playoff series against the Boston Celtics in the previous season, among other notable highs. Leading the league in assists per game, he delighted in deftly enhancing MVP Joel Embiid's brilliance and mentored Tyrese Maxey, his 22-year-old backcourt partner, on the subtleties of changing tempo and generating fouls. The Sixers' 54-28 record was their best since the 2000–01 campaign.
After the Sixers' terrible Game 7 loss in Boston, they dismissed Doc Rivers as head coach and brought in Nick Nurse. After that, Harden requested a trade and exercised his $35.6 million player option.
The end of his second term as head of basketball operations for the Sixers under Daryl Morey was drawn out and ugly. When Harden referred to Morey as a "liar" in August at a Chinese event, the NBA fined him $100,000 for making demands for trade.
Harden didn't make it to Nurse's first training camp practise or the Sixers' media day, but he was back with the team on Day 2. Morey felt no obligation to dispose of him fast.
"We'll trade James for a player of a calibre that strengthens our chances of winning the title or for draught picks and other items of that nature. It will enable us to go acquire a guy like that quickly," Morey stated on media day. "If that doesn't happen, it will go on for however long that takes."
Harden clarified on October 19 why he no longer trusted Morey.
"This is undoubtedly a challenging moment," he remarked. "Trusting folks you've known for more than ten years is all it takes, in my opinion. My main goal upon being traded here was to retire as a Sixer. The front office didn't have my wish to be here and retire a Sixer in mind. Really, I have no control over it.
"Being in this situation is something I didn't want to happen, but I have to do what's best for my family. I know this is a commercial endeavour. That is all there is to it. As I have for the past 15 years, I come in here, work myself to the bone, and take care of business.
Harden returned to the Sixers this week following a 10-day hiatus due to a personal problem, but he did not travel with the club for the season's first road trip. Harden sat on the bench during the Sixers' victory against the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday night; according to Nurse, he was still building and would practise on Tuesday.
Harden is not going to be at that drill.
Instead, led by Embiid and the rapidly improving Maxey—who recently won the NBA's Eastern Conference Player of the Week title for the Sixers—the Sixers will enter a new era.