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Are Clippers Searching for Help to Expedite James Harden Trade?

The Clippers' desire to trade for 76ers' James Harden grows every day. At this point, they are looking for help to get something done.

Before training camp started, the Los Angeles Clippers were reportedly willing to sit back and watch the James Harden “fire burn” within the Philadelphia 76ers’ organization.

With Harden clearly disgruntled and publicly stating he refused to play for the Sixers again, the Clippers figured it would only be a matter of time before Daryl Morey and the Sixers’ front office cut ties with the ten-time All-Star in order to avoid heading into the 2023-2024 season with distractions.

So far, the Clippers have been unlucky in that sense.

Harden didn’t come to the 76ers' training camp ready to set the entire operation on fire to get what he wanted. 

Instead, he showed up, laced up his sneakers, and got to work.

With four practice sessions under his belt, Harden is back to fully participating with his teammates while remaining hopeful his trade request gets resolved sooner rather than later.

At this point, the Clippers still want Harden. As the days pass, Los Angeles grows hungrier to acquire the ten-time All-Star playmaker. 

However, the Clippers are in a group of their own when it comes to having an interest in Harden, which complicates the situation even more.

The Clippers understandably want Harden for his market value. Daryl Morey, as expected, won’t take less for the All-Star caliber point guard despite the market having just one suitor. Last Monday, Morey made it clear that the Sixers need to receive one of these two options.

  • A player who can help the Sixers “in a significant way.”
  • Draft capital that can be flipped into something that will benefit them short-term

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Clippers are willing to deal one first-round pick, pick swaps, and expiring contracts. Last week, several reports noted that a single pick, mixed with swaps, is not of interest to Morey and the Sixers.

Wojnarowski confirmed on Sunday night that the Clippers remain unwilling to raise their offer at this time. However, they would still like to get a deal done “sooner than later.” Knowing Morey is not one to budge and will stand firm on his asking price, the Clippers are scrambling for help to acquire Harden.

“What the Clippers are trying to do right now is say to Daryl Morey, ‘Ok, you don’t believe that our 2028 unprotected first has enough value,’ they are going around to other teams and seeing if that ’28 pick and/or a pick swap gets them multiple picks,” Wojnarowski said. “If you are a team that’s interested in this conversation, teams that have a lot of picks and say, ‘Ok, we’ll give two protected picks for that chance in 2028 where we think you might be really bad where you age out with these stars and you don’t have young players.’”

An unprotected first-round pick for a 34-year-old Harden would hold value if it could land in the lottery, but the Sixers aren’t confident the Clippers are headed toward a steep decline anytime soon. 

“Daryl Morey’s looking at the Clippers and saying Steve Ballmer’s never been under .500; they will figure out a way to have a competitive team that might not be a great pick,” Wojnarowski added. “For the Clippers, it’s we’re not trying to offer you more, we’re not giving you that 2030 first-round pick, but let’s see what we can turn that 2028 pick [into]. See if we can flip it and see if there’s something that more interests Daryl Morey.”

So far, the Clippers haven’t found any success in their strategy to get another team involved in the Harden sweepstakes. The NBA Insider concluded his comments by noting there isn’t any traction between the Sixers and the Clippers despite the trade talks once again heating up.

As a result, Harden might have to play ball for the 76ers again for the time being. Although the star guard didn’t suit up for Philly’s preseason opener against the Boston Celtics on Sunday, he’s been scrimmaging with the Sixers, teasing a possible return to the team temporarily.

Ideally, the Sixers get a focused Harden to begin the season, helping them remain competitive in a tough Eastern Conference while simultaneously boosting his trade value. Then perhaps the Clippers — or another team — enter the picture and get closer to Morey’s asking price.

For the time being, the situation remains the same.