James Harden’s desire to be traded from the Philadelphia 76ers remains unchanged and the 10-time All-Star is “determined to start next season as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers, The Athletic reported on Thursday.
However, executives at the NBA’s Summer League reportedly believe that the Sixers are now actively trying to retain Harden. The question is: Can Philadelphia afford to call Harden’s bluff?
In January 2021, Harden publicly expressed dissatisfaction with the Houston Rockets, putting the team in a difficult position. A similar scenario unfolded with the Brooklyn Nets a year later.
Harden struggled with a 2-of-11 shooting performance, scoring only four points in what turned out to be his last game with the team — a defeat against the Sacramento Kings. Following that game, Harden sat out the next four matchups, leading ESPN’s report that there were suspicions he intentionally took a break to convey his diminishing desire to stay with the Nets. The circumstances this time around are somewhat distinct for the 33-year-old.
Harden has received a reality check this offseason. After considering his options, he ultimately chose to exercise his $35.6 million player option, as it became evident that securing a maximum contract from the Sixers or any other team was unlikely.
If Harden has aspirations of securing another lucrative contract in the future, he needs to have an impressive performance in the upcoming season. The Sixers may be relying on this situation. Both the team and Harden can find common ground in their pursuit of an NBA championship and benefit mutually from a temporary alliance. They can part ways next summer.
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