Nov 1, 2023 - Sports

Philadelphia ships off Harden in "blockbuster" trade

James Harden turned his back on Philly. Photo: David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

James Harden is going back to Cali.

Driving the news: The 76ers offloaded the disgruntled guard in what ESPN called a "blockbuster" trade with the Los Angeles Clippers.

  • The Clips also got P.J. Tucker and Filip Petrusev in return for veterans Marcus Morris, Robert Covington, Nic Batum and KJ Martin, plus two first-round draft picks and several other future picks.

Why it matters: The Harden soap opera is over and the Sixers can focus on playing basketball.

Flashback: The teams had been trying to complete a deal since Harden said he wanted out of Philly this summer after opting into a $35.6 million player option.

  • Harden then called 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey a "liar" during a promotional tour in China and later claimed their relationship was irreparable.
  • He hasn't played yet this season and was in street clothes for the Sixers' home opener against Portland.

What they're saying: CBS Sports' Sam Quinn gave the Sixers high marks in the trade, writing they're still the third-best team in the Eastern Conference even without Harden.

  • "This version of the 76ers [was] never going to win a championship," he wrote.

The bottom line: Harden lost most of the Philadelphia faithful with how he handled his exit.

  • One local columnist suggested Harden was as "valuable as a 20-year-old jock strap" and that the team was better off paying him to stay away.

What we're watching: Without the ball-dominant Harden around, the Sixers hope guard Tyrese Maxey blossoms into a star.

  • He's already averaging more than 30 points per game this season.
  • The Sixers could also use some of the draft picks they acquired to lure another superstar to play alongside Maxey and big man Joel Embiid, the Inquirer's Keith Pompey writes.

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