December 2, 2023

76ers end trade talks with James Harden, will bring back for start of season


Philadelphia 76ers' James Harden (1) reacts past Boston Celtics' Marcus Smart during the second half of Game 4 in an NBA basketball Eastern Conference semifinals playoff series, Sunday, May 7, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

So much for a blockbuster Beard deal.

The 76ers have ended trade talks on James Harden and plan to bring him back to training camp for the start of the season, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The Sixers occasionally discussed with Harden’s desired destination, the Los Angeles Clippers, but no traction on a deal emerged.

The Sixers believe they have a championship team with Harden and want to find a way to make it work with him this season, Woj reports.

Harden emphasized his willingness to be traded, so the Sixers are establishing an awkward situation to start camp.

Harden picked up his $35.6 million player option on June 29, just before free agency got underway, but did so while simultaneously asking for a trade. If Harden become an unrestricted free agent, he may not have received such a large annual pay, but now that the Sixers have called off trade talks.

So Harden is stuck in Philadelphia for a third season.

Harden, 33, played in 58 games for the Sixers last season, averaging 21.0 points, a league-leading 10.7 assists, and 6.1 rebounds per game while shooting 44.1% from the field and 38.5% from beyond the arch.

This past season did not end up how the Sixers wanted, thanks to some playoff struggles by Harden. The Sixers were up 3-2 on the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals after Harden carried the team to wins in Game 1 with 45 points and six assists and in Game 4 with 42 points, nine assists, and eight rebounds, Harden’s dominance vanished. In Game 6 he recorded just 13 points, nine assists, seven rebounds, and five turnovers, shooting a horrendous 4-of-16 from the field. Game 7 was even worse. In his biggest game as a Sixer, Harden scored nine points, seven assists, six rebounds, five turnovers, and 3-of-11 shooting from the field.

This left the Sixers in a sticky situation. Did they want to give the max to Harden who is likely to decline during such a deal and was fresh off a disappointing conclusion to the season? The answer was no, but he will be back.

This training camp is going to be a mess.

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