- James Harden joins the Clippers, bringing veteran skills and a new dynamic to the team.
- The 76ers plan for future flexibility with key draft picks and players with expiring contracts.
- This trade positions the Clippers as strong contenders for the Western Conference title.
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In a significant shift within the NBA, the Philadelphia 76ers have agreed to trade James Harden to the Los Angeles Clippers, as reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The Clippers are set to welcome Harden alongside PJ Tucker and Filip Petrusev. In a considerable exchange, the 76ers will receive a bounty including an unprotected 2028 first-round pick, additional draft picks, and players Marcus Morris, Nic Batum, Robert Covington, and KJ Martin. Wojnarowski also indicates that another first-round pick is heading to the 76ers from an as-yet-unknown third party, the details of which remain under wraps.
End of an Era for Harden in Philadelphia
The trade draws a close to James Harden’s uncertain period with the 76ers that started back in June when he was on the brink of free agency. After the Houston Rockets set their sights on Fred VanVleet, Harden, lacking alternatives, reluctantly opted into his contract’s final year with the 76ers under the premise that he would be moved by general manager Daryl Morey. This move comes after Harden voiced his dissatisfaction in August, publicly denouncing Morey. Despite the tension, Harden attended the 76ers’ camp before this trade materialized, allowing him a new start and a potential contract that Philadelphia hesitated to offer.
Strategic Moves: 76ers’ Future Planning
Philadelphia seems to be strategically aligning for maximum salary cap space in 2024, refraining from long-term commitments to both Harden and rising talent Tyrese Maxey. The latter is set to remain through restricted free agency next season without hampering the salary cap. The four incoming players possess expiring contracts, enhancing the 76ers’ financial flexibility. As of now, the team has guaranteed salaries for only two players next season: MVP Joel Embiid and Jaden Springer.
The Clippers, already significantly over the salary cap, are likely to leverage Harden’s Bird Rights to secure his stay beyond this season. Losing Harden without a replacement would be a setback, especially with the new CBA complicating sign-and-trade agreements. The Clippers’ acquisition of Harden is a strategic play to fortify their offense, pairing him with superstars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Harden, the NBA’s assist leader last season, is anticipated to be the elite playmaker the duo needs, potentially entering a new arena in the 2024-25 season with a formidable trio.
Regarding the NBA championship favorites markets, the Clippers currently hold the seventh spot with odds of +1600. However, as James Harden’s signing starts to impact their on-court performance, it’s possible that the Clippers’ position will rise, aiming to become the dark horse and contend for the title.
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