2: James Harden stands firm by trade request
James Harden opted into his $35.6 million player option for 2023-24, but that was done so he and the Sixers could work on a trade. A little over a year after requesting to be traded from Brooklyn to Philadelphia, Harden wants to go back home to Los Angeles to play for the Clippers.
Harden was spotted at Michael Rubin’s white party in the Hamptons hanging out with his Sixers teammates and was even seen speaking privately with team owner Josh Harris. That led fans to believe that maybe Harden was considering staying in Philadelphia, but that belief turned out to be untrue.
According to The Athletic’s Sam Amick (subscription required), “Harden’s stance has not changed.” He still wants to go to the Clippers. Daryl Morey, who was in Houston with Harden, helped to lure the former MVP to the Sixers, but Harden reportedly isn’t happy with how Morey handled his 2023 free agency. Harden took a pay cut last summer so that Philadelphia could have financial flexibility, and he was hoping to be rewarded with a more than desirable contract this summer.
Joel Embiid admitted to Showtime’s Rachel Nichols that he was “disappointed” by Harden’s trade request and that he hopes the guard will change his mindset. Given that Harden’s mindset seems to be the same as when he requested a trade, Embiid might’ve already played his last game with Harden.
The last thing that the Sixers should want is for Harden’s displeasure to extend into training camp and the 2023-24 season, which might be familiar because that happened with Ben Simmons. Embiid’s in his prime, and Philadelphia has to capitalize on that, and losing Harden would put the Sixers in a tough spot.