76ers trade disgruntled guard James Harden to Clippers

Philadelphia 76ers' James Harden looks on during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Portland Trail Blazers, Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

CAMDEN, N.J. — James Harden publicly called his boss a liar and swore he would never again play for the Philadelphia 76ers.

So he won’t — the 10-time All-Star with a history of trade demands only slightly shorter than his signature beard is on the move to his fifth NBA team, chasing his first championship, this time in his native California.


Harden joins Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Russell Westbrook to shape a core group of veterans trying to win the Los Angeles Clippers their first NBA title in franchise history.

The 76ers are simply trying to move on from the Harden Headache and continue their own long shot bid at a championship behind reigning NBA MVP Joel Embiid and star-in-waiting Tyrese Maxey.

The final haul was yet to be settled on Tuesday — coach Nick Nurse and Maxey danced around the topic of the trade following practice — but the key parts were this: the 76ers sent Harden, P.J. Tucker and Filip Petrušev to Los Angeles for Marcus Morris, Robert Covington, Nic Batum, K.J. Martin, a 2028 unprotected first-round draft pick, two second-round picks, a 2029 draft-pick swap and an additional first-rounder from a third team, a person familiar with the trade told The Associated Press.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the final details of the trade were not yet official.

Maxey texted the 34-year-old Harden when word of the deal broke overnight — Nurse said he slept through the trade call — and thanked his former teammate for his contributions in 79 total regular-season games with the 76ers.

“I told him I loved him, told him I appreciated him,” Maxey said. “One thing he really installed in me was confidence. I’ve always been a confident person. He made me be even more confident than I already was. All I can do is appreciate him for that.”

Maxey turns 23 on Saturday and has improved his numbers in each of his first three seasons — 8.5 points per game to 17.5 to 20.3 to 30.3 and his first Eastern Conference Player of the Week award in a small sample this season. That improvement has the 76ers finally believing he can be the star to pair with Embiid and remain contenders. Not Ben Simmons. Not Harden.

“Everything’s been going well, the flow’s been well, the organization’s been great, the team believes, the coach believes in himself,” Maxey said. “Everything’s been great.”

Still, the longer the Harden melodrama lingered in Philly, the greater the chance the situation would eventually implode. Harden — now traded by Houston, Brooklyn and the 76ers in each of the past three seasons — had long wanted to play in Philadelphia.

Harden and team president Daryl Morey, who was not available Tuesday for comment, were first allies when they were in Houston. Harden was a league MVP and had scoring titles for the Rockets. But when the Rockets went into a rebuild, Harden issued his first ultimatum and forced his way to Brooklyn in 2021. He joined Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in a “Big Three” that was never very big. The trio was socked by injuries and other controversies and played only 18 games together before Harden wanted out.

So it was off to Philly at the 2022 trade deadline in a deal for Simmons.

He was reunited with Morey and seemed comfortable in his role as a playmaker while the offense ran through Embiid. Harden even declined his $47.4 million option in June 2022, saying he wanted to give the 76ers financial flexibility to improve their roster and compete for a championship.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Star-Advertiser's TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email hawaiiwarriorworld@staradvertiser.com.