Breaking: Sixers not trading James Harden

Philadelphia 76ers’ James Harden (1) greets fans after Game 4 in an NBA basketball Eastern Conference semifinals playoff series against the Boston Celtics, Sunday, May 7, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The Philadelphia 76ers are no longer looking to trade star disgruntled point guard James Harden, per Woj. The Sixers and James Harden had initially appeared to want to look for a trade together to Harden’s preferred landing spot, the Los Angeles Clippers. President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey, someone who, at one point, had a very close relationship with James Harden, clearly attempted to meet this request. However, with the Clippers refusing to meet the Sixers’ demands, and Harden’s value being at a near-all-time low, Philly has seemingly pulled out of all trade talks  to focus on the upcoming season and remain in contention for an NBA title.

It appears as though neither Morey nor any other team, were willing to budge on their prices for James Harden. That being said, this could very well be a smoke screen by Morey and the Sixers to drive up the asking price for James Harden.

Sixers, Harden
Philadelphia 76ers’ Daryl Morey speaks during a news conference at the NBA basketball team’s training facility, Wednesday, May 17, 2023, in Camden, N.J. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Coming into the offseason, The Beard had a player option for 35 million dollars. It was always possible that Harden would decline that player option and leave in free agency, possibly back to the Houston Rockets. It was rumored early on that the Rockets were where Harden wanted to go, and with Houston having tons of cap space, it seemed like a legitimate threat.

However, Harden’s free agent market didn’t appear to be as large as we all thought and he, instead of testing free agency, opted into his player option with a trade demand. Morey seemed to be willing to trade Harden, but having the teams interested be so limited by Harden himself made it exceedingly difficult to receive fair value for the 10-time All-Star.

NBA Trades are based strictly on the laws of supply and demand. Right now, the supply of starting point guards is high, but the demand is low. Very few teams are interested in Harden right now, and even fewer are interested in giving up legitimate assets for him. So far, it appears to be only the Clippers, with a fair share of Knicks rumors as well. That very well may change as the season gets underway. After all, Harden is still a very good player. He led the league in assists last year with 10.7 per game. He also scored 21.0 points per game 44.1% from the field and 38.5% from the field.

Sixers, Harden
Philadelphia 76ers’ James Harden looks to pass the ball during the first half of Game 3 of the team’s NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, April 20, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Some Sixers fans may be experiencing deja vu with this situation. It is eerily similar to what happened with the Ben Simmons situation. A star guard, with all-time low value after a second-round playoff exit, is held onto through the offseason, only to be traded at the deadline for a higher value than originally anticipated. This is one option that the Sixers keep open with Harden.

While holding onto Harden is less than ideal, it gives Morey and the Sixers a chance to find a trade that keeps Philadelphia on pace with the best teams in the East. If Harden decided to buy in this season, there is still a good chance that Philadelphia will contend for a NBA Championship this season. Wojnarowski stated in his Twitter thread about the situation that the Sixers didn’t want to do anything that would “compromise their title hopes.” Let’s just hope that Harden being where he doesn’t want to be doesn’t destroy the team’s chemistry and lead to a negative showing on the court.