Harden Gets What He Wants, Will the Clippers?

James Harden is a hard legacy to explain to someone who isn’t interested in basketball. The Los Angeles Clippers guard was a highly-touted prospect who has more than lived up to expectations on the court. But off the court, Harden can’t seem to find much satisfaction. 

Black sports news shows that Harden has requested to be traded from his last three organizations — the Houston Rockets, Brooklyn Nets, and Philadelphia 76ers. Each franchise had brought Harden in to pair with other superstars to win championships. But the confetti never fell in those respective cities.

None of those three teams even made the NBA Finals with Harden. While Harden’s stats are fantastic, and he will likely end up in the Naismith Hall of Fame,  the 34-year-old would like to add one championship to his resume. If for nothing else, Harden would appreciate it if it stopped people from talking about it.

 

Philadelphia Took Time to Deal Harden

 

 

If winning a championship was the goal, staying with the 76ers wouldn’t have been a bad option for Harden. Philadelphia also has last year’s Most Valuable Player, Joel Embiid, in the lineup. However, the 76ers saw some drastic changes after falling to Boston in seven games in the Eastern Conference semifinals last season.

Doc Rivers was fired, and Nick Nurse was brought in to coach the team. There was also animosity between Harden and Philadelphia General Manager Daryl Morey. Harden believed Morey was lowballing him with a contract offer. Harden decided to push for a trade and wanted to go to the Los Angeles Clippers.

 

76ers Grant Harden His Wish

 

The preseason experience for Harden and the 76ers was an uneasy one. Before Harden was traded in late October, Harden had stopped coming to practice. When Harden was packing his bags to join the team for games, the 76ers told him to stay home.

Philadelphia would ultimately find a way to work out dealing Harden to Los Angeles, according to current sports news. First, the 76ers had to waive Danny Green to create roster space for a deal. Philadelphia agreed to send Harden, along with P.J. Tucker and Filip Petrušev, to the Clippers.

In exchange, the 76ers received Marcus Morris, Robert Covington, Nicolas Batum, KJ Martin, an unprotected 2028 first-round pick, two second-round picks, a pick swap for 2029, and a first-round pick from the Oakland City Thunder.

The Clippers will also send a 2027 first-round pick swap to OKC, while the Thunder will move a protected 2026 first-round draft choice to Philadelphia.

 

Clippers Desperate to Avoid Closing Window

 

Los Angeles had hoped when it lured Kawhi Leonard away from the Toronto Raptors that he would kick off a dynastic era for the long-time sad sack Clippers. But it hasn’t gone that way. Leonard has missed a lot of time due to injury, and Los Angeles has been the subject of a few postseason flameouts.

Leonard couldn’t play in the playoffs last season, and the Clippers were bounced in the first round. Los Angeles’ other star player, Paul George, has also had many injury issues during his career. With Harden in the lineup, the Clippers have another veteran who can carry the scoring load.

 

 

While Harden isn’t the best defensive player, and his shooting isn’t as consistent as it once was, he can still make a major impact for Los Angeles. 

 

Harden Wasn’t Always the Star

 

Harden never seemed destined to end his career without winning a title or two. In 2009, the Thunder chose Harden with the third overall pick out of Arizona State. During his time with OKC, Harden was part of a young core of stars that seemed destined to be a powerhouse.

In a short amount of time, the Thunder were able to draft Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Harden. That group of players hit their apex during the 2011-12 season. The trio helped OKC reach the NBA Finals for the only time in the franchise’s history. Harden was chosen as the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year.

However, all of the young stars couldn’t help OKC overcome the similarly loaded Miami Heat led by LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh. While the Thunder lost in five games in the finals, people figured this group would be a Western Conference dynasty down the road.

However, the Thunder’s dream team never materialized. The team couldn’t reach a deal with Harden and dealt him to the Houston Rockets.

 

Harden Shines on Center Stage

 

When Harden went to Houston, people weren’t sure how he’d do as the leading man. During his time in Oklahoma City, he spent a lot of time coming off the bench. But Harden’s time in Houston was one of the more spectacular individual runs in NBA history.

In 2018, Harden would be named the NBA’s MVP. He was the league’s scoring champion from 2018 to 2020. What will always haunt Harden is that he couldn’t win. Houston did its best to bring in stars to support him. First, the Rockets brought along Dwight Howard.

Then Houston paired Harden with Chris Paul. The Rockets nearly ended Golden State’s dynastic run during Harden’s MVP season. Houston went to the Western Conference Finals but was ultimately eliminated in seven games. During Game 7, Harden scored 32 points but only shot 2 of 13 from the 3-point line.

As a team, Houston only shot 7 of 44 from the perimeter, including 27 consecutive misses.

 

Playing For the Next Contract

 

Harden will be a free agent again this summer. What Harden needs to do if he wants to keep the big-money contract is to help the team win. That’s something Harden hasn’t had much luck with yet. But with a wide-open Western Conference, the Clippers now have three stars in the lineup.

They are hoping Harden and others will help the team reach its first-ever NBA Finals appearance and cap that with a championship.

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