Despite a prolonged stalemate in trade negotiations between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Clippers, James Harden remains intent on his desire to join the Clippers, even as his contract nears its end and the market for the 34-year-old superstar remains lukewarm.
The situation has prompted 76ers General Manager Daryl Morey to adopt a patient approach, with the goal of obtaining assets from the Clippers that he can later leverage to secure another All-Star caliber guard as a replacement for James Harden.
Morey recognizes the need to continue contending, particularly alongside Joel Embiid, and seeks to find a suitable replacement as the season progresses.
NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski offered his insights, explaining that the challenge at this stage of the year is identifying available players during the preseason and training camp who can serve as a viable substitute for Harden.
These options often become more apparent as the season unfolds, with teams considering alternative directions, potentially leading to the availability of veteran players for trade. However, this timing means the asking price for such players is likely to be considerably high.
“Daryl Morey’s motivation is what ever he gets from the Clippers, he wants to be able to flip that for another All-Star level guard that he could replace James Harden with,” Wojnarowski said on NBA Today.
“I think the slow play to take a combination of whatever the Clippers would give hem and their own assets to go out and make a deal to replace James Harden because you’re trying to win right now with Joel Embiid, I think the problem for this time of the year is who is that player or players out there that are available in the preseason, in training camp.
“Those kind of players they emerge as you get deeper into the season, teams start to maybe look at going in a different direction, maybe they’re not going to re-sign a veteran player, maybe they’re going to move off of him. The asking price this time of the year for the players you might want to get to replace James Harden is going to be really high.”
The ongoing negotiations are also influenced by the Clippers’ reluctance to escalate their offer by including Terance Mann, a player previously off the negotiation table.
The Clippers have not been inclined to part with two future first-round picks for a potential one-year rental of Harden, despite the belief that their offer is the most substantial in the current market.
“So there’s not great motivation in Philadelphia necessarily to think that a deal with the Clippers now gets them the best value they can, the best player that might be available later in the year,” Wojnarowski added.
“That’s why this may play out over time, especially if the Clippers are not going to up their offer and include Terance Mann in the deal who has been off the table in these talks so far.
“And it keeps the Clippers from saying ‘We’re not giving you two future first-round picks for player in James Harden who might just be one year rental for us.’
“But you’re the Clipper and you go ‘We know we’ve made the best offer for James Harden. There’s not a great James Harden market out there.’ So that’s why this thing may be slow going well into the season.”