James Harden is getting his wish, with the Philadelphia 76ers agreeing to trade the disgruntled 10-time All-Star to the Los Angeles Clippers in the latest move to shake up the NBA, according to the reports.
The Clippers will ship a package of picks including a 2028 unprotected first-rounder and another first from an undisclosed third team along with Marcus Morris, Robert Covington, Nic Batum and KJ Martin to Philadelphia to acquire Harden, P.J. Tucker and Filip Petrusev, ESPN reported.
The 76ers will also receive a 2029 pick swap and two second-round selections in the blockbuster.
The deal ends a tumultuous tenure in Philadelphia for Harden, whom the 76ers acquired from the Nets in the February 2022 trade that sent Ben Simmons to Brooklyn.
Joining the Clippers pairs Harden with fellow big names in Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Russell Westbrook, fortifying a contender in a loaded Western Conference that also features the defending-champion Denver Nuggets and a Phoenix Suns team that added Bradley Beal to Kevin Durant and Devin Booker over the offseason.
Harden averaged 21 points and nearly 11 assists over 79 games with Philadelphia and took a $15 million pay cut entering the 2022-23 season to help the 76ers build a better team around him. The 76ers were eliminated in the Eastern Conference Semifinals during both of Harden’s postseasons with the team, despite also having center Joel Embiid, the reigning NBA MVP.
The 34-year-old Harden didn’t receive a maximum contract extension over the offseason that would’ve helped him recoup some of the money he forfeited last year. The high-scoring guard asked for a trade in June, the same month he picked up his $35.6 million option, and repeatedly vocalized his displeasure with 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey as his request lingered.
“Daryl Morey is a liar and I will never be a part of an organization that he’s a part of,” Harden said during an August promotional event in China. “Let me say that again. Daryl Morey is a liar and I will never be a part of an organization that he’s a part of.”
Harden, the 2018 NBA MVP with Houston, didn’t appear in a game this season with the 76ers, who began the year 2-1 without him. The trade allows Philadelphia to further hand the keys to the backcourt to Tyrese Maxey, the lightning-quick, 22-year-old guard who is averaging 30.3 points through three games.
The 2-1 Clippers, who were long considered Harden’s preferred landing spot, are scheduled to play the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 6 before heading to Brooklyn to face the Nets at Barclays Center on Nov. 8.
Harden only appeared in 80 games over parts of two seasons with the Nets from 2020-21 before Brooklyn appeased a trade request. He failed to fulfill championship-or-bust aspirations alongside fellow superstars Durant and Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn during a so-called “Big Three” era that ended unceremoniously, with the trio only appearing in 16 games together.
Harden was also believed to have pushed his way out of Houston, where he played from 2012-2021, mostly under Morey as general manager. The January 2021 trade to the Nets occurred weeks after Harden famously showed up to Rockets training camp out of shape.
Next week’s Nets-Clippers game would be the latest high-profile matchup between Brooklyn and one of its former stars early in the 2023-24 season. Last week, the Nets faced Irving for the first time since appeasing his trade request in February and sending him to Dallas.
The Nets are scheduled to see Durant on Dec. 13 in Phoenix, marking their first meeting with the former MVP forward since trading him to the Suns in February.
Harden’s trade to Los Angeles comes weeks after the Milwaukee Bucks acquired seven-time All-Star guard Damian Lillard and the Boston Celtics added two-time All-Star guard Jrue Holiday.