James Harden and his quest for championship resumes, but this time with another team, LA Clippers.
Harden’s time with his longtime boss, Daryl Morey, has finally ended. As ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported, the Philadelphia 76ers traded James Harden to the LA Clippers.
The deal was looked at in this way:
Unprotected 2028 first-round pick (via Clippers)
Two second-round picks (via Clippers)
First-round pick from Thunder
First-round pick swap (via Clippers)
After much commotion caused by Harden’s trade demand, Harden, P.J. Tucker, and Filip Petrusev had to pack their bags on their way to the LA Land.
Grading the Trade for Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers have had to be one of the unluckiest franchises of the decade. Losing a 3-1 lead against the Denver Nuggets in the Playoffs, to Paul George and Kawhi Leonard not being reliable enough to stay healthy even for a single season, had made fans unsettled and waiting for a spark. A spark came in the form of Russell Westbrook, who shined in the Playoffs last year and took a massive pay cut to stay with the Clippers.
The trade is one of the most significant risks the Clipper land has in its bucket. Harden comes in with a history of forcing trades with much lesser expectations and can even be bought off the bench. The Clippers did well to bring PJ Tucker in the deal as he is an exceptional defender, and with the likes of Westbrook and Leonard, he can be a great support to the team.
The question arises of how Harden will improve the championship odds for the Clippers. In reality, not much. In four seasons with Leonard and George on their roster, the Clippers have ranked fourth, second, 10th, and third in clutch offense. They made the Western Conference finals three years ago with Reggie Jackson as their primary ball-handler. The Clippers have never had a ball-movement offense, but Harden's teams never do. Here, Hardan’s reliability comes into the picture when and if he manages to play through the entire season without getting injured.
Still, Trust the Process?
Philadelphia 76ers is one of the most dramatic franchises in recent memories. With busting up the No.1 pick Markelle Fultz in the 2017 NBA draft with Jason Tatum available in the draft, the whole Ben Simmons Drama, and Jimmy Butler being forced out from Philly, it all comes down to the lone warrior, the reigning NBA MVP Joel Embiid. The 76ers were, at best, the third-best team in the Eastern Conference with Harden on their roster.
If viewed long-term, the trade can be an excellent arrangement for Philadelphia to restructure the whole squad and move from Embiid or trade in for another superstar like Zach Lavine. They can also trade their own 2030 pick and offer a couple of swaps on their picks. Toss in some of their new expiring salaries, and they have the chips to land someone reasonably significant.
If we put the whole scenario in pen and paper, Philadelphia won the trade on a long-term vision compared to the LA Clippers, as they are not one of the oldest squads in the NBA.