James Harden Trade Rumors: Sixers could ‘Go After’ Clippers superstar

James Harden, Kawhi Leonard - Credit: Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports
James Harden, Kawhi Leonard - Credit: Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports /

It appears as if James Harden won’t be heading to his preferred destination before training camp. The Los Angeles Clippers have shut down trade talks with the disgruntled Philadelphia 76ers superstar guard, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. The asking price was too high. The Clippers are moving on.

Windhorst provided the latest update on the The Hoop Collective podcast, adding that the Clippers were interested in making a deal for Harden but the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement. There is an outside chance the Clippers and Sixers could resume talks at the trade deadline.

Never say never. Never rule anything out.

Here is how Windhorst framed what has turned into a confusing situation:

"The Clippers tried to trade for James Harden, and that deal didn’t happen. From what I understand, it was the Clippers who said, ‘Okay, there’s no deal here, we’re gonna move on.’ And so I assume that, while they could certainly make a deal midseason, I assume that this is what they’re gonna go with and I assume this means Russell Westbrook will be their starter."

One other interesting tidbit mentioned by Windhorst was that Paul George has become extension-eligible. He joins Kawhi Leonard as players on the Clippers’ roster with one year left on their contracts without guaranteeing a long-term commitment. George and Leonard make the same amount of money — four years at $176.2 million on max deals — and they have player options in their deals.

Do they need extensions to play this season? Absolutely not.

But, it is a bit odd. Franchises generally like to lock up their guys rather than risk losing them in free agency. It seems as if the Clippers’ ownership wants to see how everything plays out, especially considering their injury history and inability to meet lofty expectations.

Leonard and Paul are going to get asked about their contract situations at media day in a few weeks. Don’t rule out the Sixers as a potential landing spot for one of those superstars if they decide to opt out and enter free agency next offseason.

Windhorst added more perspective: “As far as I know those guys want to be in Los Angeles, and so if they opt out and become free agents, I guess somebody could go after them. Philadelphia right now has positioned itself to be a big free-agent player. I guess Philadelphia could swoop in and go after Paul or Kawhi. Are they going to Philly? Or someplace like that? I don’t know, maybe it’s not the worst set of risk factors for the Clippers to play it out that way.”

The Sixers have roughly $174.7 million tied up in salary to 17 players heading into the 2023-24 campaign. However, Harden is on the books for $35.6 million while P.J. Tucker is eating up $11 million. Neither player figures to be on the roster next year. Then, there is the curious case of Tobias Harris and his $39.2 million contract. Needless to say, they should have money to burn — and that’s even after they presumably hand Tyrese Maxey a hefty extension.

Keep an eye on the Sixers to be major players on the open market in one year’s time.