James Harden Doesn’t Plan To Play For Sixers Again

A standoff between the Sixers and James Harden appears imminent after the team’s decision to take him off the trade market. A source close to Harden tells Sam Amick of The Athletic that the star guard is locked into his stance about not wanting to play in Philadelphia anymore and doesn’t plan to report to training camp if he’s still with the club.

A Sixers source confirmed to Amick that the organization has stopped trying to work out a trade involving Harden. There were some discussions earlier this summer with the Clippers, who are Harden’s preferred destination, but Amick states that they clearly weren’t productive.

Amick reported last month that executives from other teams were skeptical that Philadelphia president of basketball operations Daryl Morey was making an honest effort to find a taker for Harden. Morey reportedly asked for a huge return from the teams he discussed Harden with, much as he did with Ben Simmons in the summer of 2021. In a radio interview last month, Morey said he was looking for a top-level player in return for Harden or enough assets to get one from another team.

Harden, who will turn 34 later this month, was counting on one more big contract and was hoping to create a bidding war between the Sixers and Rockets in free agency. Houston decided to target other free agents after hiring Ime Udoka as its head coach, leaving Harden without another bidder to drive up his price.

Unable to get an offer to his liking from Morey, Harden surprisingly decided to forgo free agency and pick up his $35.6MM option for next season. That move came with a trade request, as Harden made it clear that he was unhappy with Sixers management.

Training camp is still seven weeks away, so there’s still time for the situation to be resolved. However, even if Harden relents and shows up at camp, there could be plenty of awkward moments. Amick notes that Harden had “staring contests” with both the Rockets and Nets when he decided he no longer wanted to be with those teams. Harden went on a “party tour” in Las Vegas and Atlanta before reporting to Houston’s training camp in 2020, Amick adds, and he refused to back down on his trade request with either team.

For all the drama surrounding his frequent change of teams in recent years, Harden remains a productive player. He led the league in assists last season with 10.7 per game, along with 21.0 points and 6.1 rebounds, while shooting 38.5% from three-point range. The Sixers reportedly believe they have a chance to win a title with Harden and are unwilling to throw away that chance just to get Harden off their roster.

Harden is in the final year of his contract, which may be limiting his trade value, so no matter how the situation with the Sixers plays out, he will be on the free agent market next summer.

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