In the words of Marshawn Lynch, “I’m just here so I won’t get fined.” James Harden didn’t show up to Sixers training camp because he rescinded his trade request, but because of the financial implications. The New York Knicks’ dream of trading for Joel Embiid isn’t over. If anything, it’s just begun.
As expected, Harden was out for Philadelphia’s first two preseason games. On Friday, he said he “intends to play” in the team’s preseason finale next Friday against the Hawks.
That wasn’t all Harden said. This summer, he called Daryl Morey a “liar” at an Adidas event over the summer and told KHOU 11 that his relationship with the organization is beyond repair.
Does he still feel that way with the start of the regular season less than two weeks away? You bet.
Will James Harden-Sixers fiasco lead to a Joel Embiid trade request?
On Oct. 7, New York Post’s Stefan Bondy wrote that, according to a source, the Knicks are monitoring three targets. Unsurprisingly, Joel Embiid was listed. He’s the kind of superstar New York has been waiting on, and after a quiet summer, the Knicks’ patience could pay off with a trade for the 2022-23 MVP.
The key to Embiid’s future with the Sixers is what they could get in return for Harden. Considering it’s been over three months since he opted into his $35.6 option and requested a trade, it’s not looking good for Philadelphia.
The Clippers are Harden’s top destination, but Los Angeles’ initial offer didn’t wow Daryl Morey and the Sixers. The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported on Oct. 6 that the Clippers have been working to bolster their offer (subscription required) for the disgruntled guard.
A trade happening before the start of the season isn’t out of the question, but it seems unlikely. Harden’s already shown he’s willing to show up to work regardless, but how much will the Sixers get out of him? Enough to keep Embiid happy?
Including 2023-24, Embiid has four years left on his current contract, with 2026-27 being a $59 million player option. New York has the assets to get a trade done, but how willing would Morey be to trade the star to a hated division rival? Even if the Knicks were at the top of the center’s list, there’s no guarantee that’s where he’d go. Look to the Damian Lillard-Trail Blazers saga for reference.
For now, the more James Harden speaks negatively about the Sixers, the better. Joel Embiid’s future is at stake.