James Harden’s future with the Philadelphia 76ers appears to be uncertain. He recently opted into the second year of his contract with the goal of working out a trade, specifically to the Los Angeles Clippers. No deal between the two teams appears to be imminent, however, and Harden might be stuck on the Sixers’ roster to start the season due to the lack of willingness to get a deal done.
In recent weeks, reports have come out detailing Harden’s frustration with the 76ers. He is reportedly very unhappy that Daryl Morey, Sixers President of Basketball Operations, let him test Free Agency and didn’t work out a long-term deal for the former MVP. This begs the question: Is Harden’s frustration with the Sixers valid?
Harden’s frustration with the Sixers makes little sense.
In the two offseasons that he has been here, they have bent over backward for Harden and added several of his friends and former teammates including Danuel House, PJ Tucker, and Pat Beverley. This alone should be enticing enough to stay with the team. I understand that Harden did not have the best relationship with Doc Rivers, but he is no longer with the organization.
With Nick Nurse at the helm bringing in a fresh game plan, Harden will be allowed to shine. Rivers’ offense was built around the Harden and Embiid pick and roll, and while this benefited Harden, it also was not a recipe for success as we saw in the postseason. Teams like the Celtics, and Heat figured out the Sixers’ game plan and were able to attack it easily and have success against them. A less predictable offense will work wonders for Harden’s game and I believe Nurse will bring out the best in one of the NBA’s top duos (Harden, and Embiid)
Another reason that I don’t think his frustrations are valid is the fact that his camp leaked for months that he was going back to Houston. This was a storyline that clouded the Sixers’ season, with the reports coming to the forefront back in September. It appears this was a leverage move to get the Sixers to negotiate in good faith and bring back the star point guard.
Do you blame the Sixers for letting him test free agency after all the buzz about Houston? If Harden came out and said I would love to finish my career in Philadelphia and compete for a championship, I would immediately work with his agent on getting a long-term deal done. This has not been the case though and his tenure with the team has been uncertain ever since he first became an unrestricted free agent last offseason.
Harden is making a huge mistake by trying to leave the Sixers.
At this point in his career, playing alongside Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey is his best hope of winning a championship. While he would certainly make the Clippers a contender with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George already in the fold, both of these players have had injury concerns in recent seasons. It would create another Nets scenario where things look great on paper but don’t work out in the end.
Harden already opted into the last year of his deal and riding this season out with the Sixers would be a wise move for his career. If the team underperforms, he can walk away and look for a big payday elsewhere to finish his career. If the team plays well and makes it to the Eastern Conference Finals or beyond, he can consider wrapping up his career here. The Sixers had limited options to add this offseason due to the salary cap restrictions. Next year though is a different story. Tobias Harris will likely walk in free agency next season which will give the Sixers the option to extend Maxey and add more talent. This should be something that Harden makes a note of and monitors.
The James Harden saga appears to be far from over, and time will tell whether he suits up for the team in October.