It only took a week into the 2023-24 season for James Harden’s wish to come true, and now, the guard is headed back home to LA to play for the Clippers. The ripple effects of the trade can be felt throughout the NBA, especially for the New York Knicks.
Leon Rose has been monitoring Joel Embiid’s situation for a while now, and the belief is that if he were to request a trade, it wouldn’t happen until the offseason. The reigning MVP’s future hinges on what Daryl Morey and the Sixers can turn their new draft assets into.
Philadelphia is 2-1, with all three games played without Harden. Admittedly, the wins were over the Raptors and Trail Blazers, but it’s a good sign for the Sixers that Tyrese Maxey is off to a hot start. The Harden replacement is averaging 30.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 6.3 rebounds per game, shooting 50% from the field and 56% from three.
What’s next for Philadelphia is to stalk the market for an All-Star player to trade for, much like New York has been doing.
What does James Harden trade mean for Knicks’ Joel Embiid dream?
The Sixers added Marcus Morris, Nic Batum, Robert Covington, and KJ Martin while moving on from James Harden and PJ Tucker. Philadelphia wanted Terance Mann but opted to end the Harden saga without getting the 27-year-old guard in return.
As mentioned, the expectation isn’t that Joel Embiid will ask out before the Feb. 8 trade deadline, although that could happen. The rest of the league will sit back and see how the new-look Sixers fare and if Daryl Morey can turn the picks into another star to pair alongside Embiid.
Philadelphia did the right thing by moving on from Harden, especially because the drama was never-ending over the past few weeks. He was a distraction the team didn’t need, but now, the Sixers aren’t exactly in a position to contend for a title. Yes, a breakout season from Maxey would help, but time’s ticking on Embiid’s prime.
It doesn’t matter if Morey and Philadelphia emerge as winners of the Harden trade, but what does matter is how Joel Embiid feels. The story’s the same as it’s been — if the Sixers don’t at least make it to the ECF, all eyes will be on the star center. Will enough be enough? Leon Rose and the Knicks hope so!