James Harden seeks trade from Philadelphia 76ers after exercising option
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - James Harden will exercise his $35.6-million player option for the next NBA season in order to facilitate a trade from the Philadelphia 76ers, multiple outlets reported Thursday.
The Athletic named the Los Angeles Clippers as a team likely to pursue Harden, a 10-time All-Star and the 2017-18 NBA MVP who turns 34 in August but has remained among the NBA's premier playmakers. The New York Knicks are expected to have interest as well, according to ESPN.
Harden re-signed with the 76ers last year on a two-year, $68.6-million contract that included the opt-out clause, taking less money in order to remain with one of the Eastern Conference's top contenders.
Philadelphia finished third in the East with a 54-28 record, but was knocked out in the conference semifinals for a second straight year after losing to the rival Boston Celtics in seven games.
The 76ers fired head coach Doc Rivers following their playoff exit and replaced him with former Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse.
Had he opted out for a second straight year, Harden would have been eligible to re-sign with the 76ers for as much as $210 million over four years.
James Harden may join his fourth team in four seasons
Harden averaged 21 points and a league-leading 10.7 assists in 58 regular-season games in 2022-23, and his 38.5% accuracy from 3-point range was the second highest in his 14-year career.
He struggled in the Boston series, however, averaging only 12.5 points on 21.8% shooting in the 76ers' four losses. In the Game 7 defeat, Harden was held to nine points while finishing 3 of 11 from the field.
For his career, Harden has averaged 24.7 points, 5.6 rebounds, seven assists, and 1.5 steals in exactly 1,000 regular-season games.
Should he be moved, Harden would be joining his fourth team in four seasons.
The future Hall of Famer requested a trade from the Houston Rockets prior to the pandemic-shortened 2020-21 season and was later dealt to the Brooklyn Nets in January 2021, forming a star-studded trio with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
Brooklyn's "Big Three" was unable to achieve the franchise's championship dreams, however, and the group was broken up when Harden was sent to the 76ers in a blockbuster deal involving three-time All-Star Ben Simmons in February 2022.
Cover photo: Tim Nwachukwu / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP