It looks like James Harden’s time with the Philadelphia 76ers is going to end soon one way or another. Harden was traded to the 76ers in February 2021 and helped Philadelphia reach the Eastern Conference Semifinals in each of the past two seasons. But despite exercising his $35.6 million option for next season, Harden is hoping to be traded before the start of the 2023-24 NBA season.
Harden’s exit from the 76ers will surely shake up the Eastern Conference heading into next season. With Harden and Joel Embiid as the stars and Philly adding several complementary pieces during the offseason, the 76ers are bound to be among the favorites in the Eastern Conference during the 2023-24 season. Given the ease of sports betting in Pennsylvania , there were bound to be plenty of fans making wagers on the 76ers. However, that may not be the case if Harden is traded.
Harden has been looking for a way out of Philadelphia virtually since he arrived last February. The Los Angeles Clippers appeared to be his preferred trade destination. But while the 76ers agreed to explore the trade market for Harden if he agreed to exercise his option for next season, the team hasn’t found a viable trade partner. According to sources, Philadelphia’s asking price in a trade for Harden has been too high. With no deal getting done, Harden lashed out at 76ers president Daryl Morey.
"Daryl Morey is a liar, and I will never be a part of an organization that he's a part of," Harden said this past week. "Let me say that again: Daryl Morey is a liar, and I will never be a part of an organization that he's a part of.”
Before his trade wishes weren’t met, Harden was disappointed with the 76ers not offering him a long-term contract for the league maximum. Based on his track record and the fact that he led the NBA in assists last year, it’s easy to see why Harden believes he’s worth a max contract. On the other hand, he’ll be 34 at the start of the 2023-24 season, making it understandable that the 76ers are reluctant to give him a max contract.
That leaves Harden and the 76ers at an impasse at the moment. If nothing changes, it appears that Harden will have no option but to show up at training camp and play out the season with the 76ers. That appears to be the plan for the 76ers at the moment. However, Harden has floated the idea of going to China to play next season. It remains to be seen whether he’s serious about that or not. But hinting at going to China could add another twist to the offseason soap opera between Harden and the 76ers.