James Harden wants trade to 1 of 2 Western Conference teams?
James Harden pulled a stunner on Thursday when we learned that the veteran shooting guard wants a trade.
As recently as Wednesday, all information indicated that the Philadelphia 76ers were going to give Harden a contract extension. But on Thursday, a few prominent reporters said that Harden would pick up his $35.6 million option for 2023-2024 rather than decline it to become a free agent. Picking up the option would facilitate a trade to another team.
At this point, many people are wondering where Harden wants to be traded. We have a few ideas.
Over the last month and a half, we have twice written about Harden having interest in the Phoenix Suns. A report in May said that Harden had the Suns on his radar. Then a report a few weeks ago said the Suns were working on trying to bring Harden into the mix.
In addition to the Suns, the Los Angeles Clippers could be a landing spot for Harden in a trade. They have Kawhi Leonard and Paul George as their cornerstones and could use some support when those players miss games. The Clippers also have salaries to send back in Norman Powell and Marcus Morris that would match on Harden.
One note to keep in mind regarding Harden is that if he opts into his contract, any team that acquires him in a trade would be getting him for one season before he hits free agency again.
Important thing on James Harden:
This will not be an extend-and-trade situation. He's not extension-eligible because he signed only a two-year deal with the 76ers last season.
Whoever acquires Harden is getting him on a one-year deal and UFA in 2024.
— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) June 29, 2023
It’s no surprise that both Chris Haynes and Adrian Wojnarowski mentioned the Clippers as a possible spot for Harden.
With James Harden opting into his $35.6 million player option with the Philadelphia 76ers to initiate trade dialogue, the Los Angeles Clippers are a team to monitor for his services, league sources tell @NBAonTNT, @BleacherReport.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) June 29, 2023
Woj also noted the Knicks would pursue Harden.
The Clippers and Knicks are expected to be among the teams that'll engage with the Sixers on a potential James Harden trade, sources tell ESPN. https://t.co/NQ5Y6xkvAx
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 29, 2023
Neither reporter mentioned the Suns, but they should not be discounted. If they were to work a trade for Harden, they would probably want to part with Deandre Ayton, but would need to loop in a third team since Philly already has the center position taken care of with Joel Embiid.