BREAKING: The Philadelphia 76ers have agreed on a trade to send guard James Harden to the Los Angeles Clippers, sources tell ESPN. pic.twitter.com/wAyuJKMfAw— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 31, 2023
The final trade, according to Woj, includes a plethora of players going both ways as well as multiple draft picks. Here’s the breakdown:
LA Clippers get: James Harden, P.J. Tucker, Filip Petrusev
Philadelphia 76ers get: Marcus Morris, Robert Covington, Nic Batum, KJ Martin, a 2028 unprotected first-round pick, two second-round picks, a 2029 pick swap and an additional (from an undisclosed third team) first-round pick
To make room for all of the players they’re getting in return, Philadelphia will reportedly waive veteran wing Danny Green to create roster space.
Harden joins three All-Star players in Los Angeles, including Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard, and Paul George. All four are California natives.
According to sources close to Harden, the guard is “ecstatic” to be joining the Clippers (h/t Ramona Shelburne) and he wants to land in Los Angeles as soon as possible, potentially even for Tuesday’s game against the Orlando Magic.
The Clippers play against the Lakers on Wednesday, although it is unclear if Harden will be available/fit enough to dress in less than 48 hours for the first time as a member of the Clippers.
If Harden doesn’t play against the Lakers, then he will have his first chance at debuting on Monday... against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
On top of that, this trade has clear implications for both the Western and the Eastern conferences.
Obviously, the Clippers and the 76ers are the two franchises with the biggest questions to solve during the next few weeks and months. How will Harden fit Los Angeles’ rotation and Ty Lue’s playbook? How will the 76ers (re)build their rotation now that they have added plenty of second-string players to bolster their second/third unit? Will the pecking order change in both the East and the West when it comes to the final regular-season standings and postseason seeding? And most of all...
How will reigning MVP Joel Embiid react to the trade and the return fetched by Daryl Morey?
The most interesting and pressing thing about this trade—who we all knew was coming no matter what at some point—from a Knicks standpoint is surely linked to Embiid and how the Sixers do this season as they attempt to make a deep postseason run once and for all.
The Sixers are, presumably, betting on a core of Embiid and Tyrese Maxey for the 2023/24 season as well as getting some saucy returns from the picks they acquired in exchange for Harden. Will Embiid still be in Philadelphia by the time those picks convey? Hard to know at this point.
Perhaps the strategy is to flip those picks and ancillary players into another top-level player to bolster the starting five this season and beyond. That would be better for all parties involved here, for sure, and it’s the belief held around the NBA. As Wojnarowski wrote in his story, the 76ers “wanted to get two first-round picks and believe those assets give them a chance to pursue another high-level guard in a trade.”
Will they find a trade partner? Do they already have a target in mind? Has Embiid pitched Morey and the Sixers some ideal players he’d like the franchise to trade for in advance of the Harden trade so they started working on those future deals?
A few days ago, John Hollinger of The Athletic ($) wrote a story touching precisely on Embiid’s opinion about the Harden situation/trade and how it will impact the Sixers' present and future, as well as his own.
“Don’t lose sight of the bigger picture,” Hollinger wrote. “The underlying, existential question in Philadelphia is whether the team can be good enough in Harden’s absence to keep Embiid from launching a trade demand of his own.”
The former Grizzlies' VP of Basketball Operations sees this as “the Sixers [being] on the clock with a 10-month window to do one of three things: A) Prove they can win big even without Harden, B) trade Harden for players or assets that enable them to win big or C) get somebody so good with their 2024 cap space that A and B are rendered irrelevant.”
Embiid demanding a trade (tomorrow, in February, in July...) doesn’t mean the Knicks will get him. Hell, Embiid demanding a trade to the Knicks wouldn’t even mean a thing, either—ask a certain Dame.
So, how do you think this will end up? Do you see the 76ers improving or getting worse? Can you envision the next piece to fall in this saga? Let us know in the comments section below because the NBA and the future of the Knicks got very spicy following this late Woj Bomb on Halloween!