When it was first reported by NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski that the Philadelphia 76ers would be trading James Harden, he immediately became one of the biggest available names on the market this offseason.
The news broke after it was reported that Harden was picking up his $35.6-million option, as the two sides decided that it would be best to go their separate ways.
Shortly after, it was Harden’s former team, the Houston Rockets, who emerged as the early favorites to land the 10-time all-star and former NBA MVP.
However, a new report has since surfaced, and it not only claims that Harden is “extremely upset” with the way that the Sixers have gone about their business, but it also points to a new favorite emerging in the James Harden sweepstakes.
According to a report from The Athletic, Harden has made his “dissatisfaction” with the 76ers very clear to the organization, as he feels like they have taken advantage of him. It all stems from Harden’s decision to take a significant pay cut last offseason, with the expectation being that the team would make it up to him this offseason.
However, that hasn’t been the case, as the Sixers have instead challenged Harden to take his talents to free agency to see what he can get from other teams, before deciding if they would make an offer of their own.
Via The Athletic:
When Harden decided to take a significant pay cut nearly a year ago, declining his $47.4 million player option with the Philadelphia 76ers to sign a one-plus-one deal in which he would be paid $33 million for the 2022-23 campaign, there was a widespread belief that it was a classic case of quid pro quo. Harden would give some money back as a way of helping the Sixers fill out their roster, thereby inching them even closer to a title that has eluded the franchise since 1983 and Harden for his entire professional career (circa 2009). And in the following offseason, many presumed, the 10-time All-Star and former MVP would be handsomely rewarded with a contract more befitting of his future Hall of Fame talents…
As it turned out, that league-wide expectation was wildly wrong.
While free agency doesn’t officially begin until Friday evening, a player of Harden’s caliber could typically expect to have some clarity about the incumbent franchise’s intentions long before that time arrives. But in recent weeks and days, sources say, all indications on Harden’s side pointed to the Sixers forcing him to test the market before they would make an offer of any kind. The understandable concern for Harden, sources say, was that Philadelphia was preparing to offer him the kind of short-term, team-friendly contract that wouldn’t come close to reflecting his stature in the league or the level of his current play (he averaged 21 points, a league-leading 10.7 assists and 6.1 rebounds in the regular season; 20.3 points, 8.3 assists and 6.2 rebounds in 11 postseason games). Harden, who hired Troy Payne, Mike Silverman and Brandon Grier of Equity Basketball to be his agents in February after going more than five years without full-time representation, had no interest in being put in that compromised negotiating position. And it would only grow worse as free agency neared.
Now that the relationship between Harden and the Sixers has reached a level of being unrepairable, it looks like we’ll be seeing The Beard in a new uniform next season…Although, it could very well be another BLUE uniform!
According to the same article from The Athletic, the Los Angeles Clippers are in prime position to scoop Harden up, as they have already engaged in talks with Philly regarding a possible trade.
According to sources directly involved in the situation on both sides, the Los Angeles native wants to play for the Clippers and the Sixers are already in the process of discussing his desired move. Harden is, according to sources close to him, extremely upset at the way in which the Sixers handled his possible free agency and has made his dissatisfaction clear to the organization.
While it seems likely that he’ll land with the Clippers, it remains to be seen whether his longtime basketball partner, Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey, will grant this unexpected wish. Sources say, however, that there is strong optimism on Harden’s side that it will indeed happen. Both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are said to be on board with the idea of Harden potentially joining their core, according to sources.
There have also been other teams mentioned as possible suitors for Harden, including the Rockets and the Miami Heat.
With NBA Free Agency set to officially kick off later today, it may not be long before his saga ends and the 33-year-old superstar finds his new home.
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