The James Harden saga in Philadelphia came to a close very early Tuesday morning.
The Sixers are sending Harden, P.J. Tucker, and Filip Petrušev to the Los Angeles Clippers, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the news at 2:01 a.m. They will receive Robert Covington, Nicolas Batum, K.J. Martin, Marcus Morris Sr., and draft compensation that includes two first-round picks, an unprotected 2028 selection, and a 2026 protected first-rounder from the Oklahoma City Thunder. They are also acquiring two second-rounders (2024 and 2029) and a 2029 pick swap. The Sixers are waiving Danny Green to open the roster spot necessary to complete the deal.
Morris, Martin, Batum, and Covington are all on expiring contracts.
Covington was a part of another monumental Sixers trade five years ago, going to the Minnesota Timberwolves in a package for Jimmy Butler. The winger made the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team for the 2017-18 season and played five seasons as a Sixer. Morris is a 34-year-old Philadelphia native, Martin, a 22-year-old, is known for his athleticism and highlight dunks, and Batum is an adaptable veteran and the captain of the French national team.
Harden ended up playing less than an entire season in a Sixers uniform, traded to Philadelphia in February of 2022.
He had many significant highs with the Sixers, including a 45-point Game 1 and a 42-point Game 4 in the team’s second-round playoff series last year to the Boston Celtics. He led the league in assists per game, enhanced Joel Embiid’s game, and gave young Tyrese Maxey advice.
After the Game 7 loss and the hiring of Nick Nurse, Harden picked up his $35.6 million player option and asked to be traded.
The ending to his second term with Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey was a disaster. In August, Harden called Morey a “liar” at an event in China. Harden was then absent from media day and the first training camp practice, but he returned to the team on Day 2.
After a 10-day absence due to a “personal matter”, Harden came back to the Sixers a week ago but did not join the team for their season-opening road trip. Harden watched the Sixers’ win Sunday night over the Portland Trail Blazers from the bench.
Two days later, Harden is headed to L.A.
The Sixers will now move into a new phase behind Embiid and the ever-rising Maxey, who won the NBA’s Eastern Conference Player of the Week award in the NBA’s opening week. And that is for the better.