PLAYA DEL REY, Calif. — James Harden was a nonentity at Clippers media day Monday, physically and emotionally. He was an afterthought, at most.
"Our main focus going into camp is 'this is who we have,'" Clippers coach Tyron Lue said. "So we want to focus on that and want to give our best shot and that's what we're focused on. So I'm not really focused on trades and outside noise."
That may be exactly what a coach is supposed to say, but to a man the Clippers players and coach believe it. They talked about how this team has enough to be a threat in the West if they can just get to the playoffs with a healthy Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. While those of us not on the Clippers charter flight headed to Hawaii for training camp may have our doubts, the people who boarded the plane believe. At least enough that they are not going to make a desperate move.
Which is a key reason why the Clippers are not upping their lowball offer to trade for Harden and Philadelphia. League sources told NBC Sports recently that there was no real traction toward a Clippers trade for Harden, and Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports added detail to that.
[Harden] did not join the team's flight to Denver for training camp at Colorado Springs, steadfast in his hope to be traded to the Clippers, as steadfast as the Sixers have been in seeking greater draft capital than Los Angeles has been willing to forfeit, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
What is difficult for Sixers president Daryl Morey — what is different between the Harden and Damian Lillard situations — is that Morey doesn't have other options. The Trail Blazers had multiple suitors after their star: Miami obviously wanted Lillard, Toronto was involved on some level, and then there was Milwaukee, all of which gave Portland GM Joe Cronin room to work and find the best offer he could. Morey would love those options with Harden, but as David Aldrige wrote at The Athletic, the market is dry.
Multiple executives around the league reiterated Monday that there's not much of a market for the 14-time All-Star and 2017-18 league MVP outside of L.A.
Which is why the drama could drag out with Philadelphia. To this point, Harden has not reported to training camp, but if that changes it will be a circus.
The Clippers can sit back and enjoy the show — they like their team as it is right now. They know it would be better with Harden in the mix, but they are not desperate. They can wait.
The question is, how long can Morey and the 76ers do the same?