Surprise twist in James Harden trade saga revealed

    Word leaked last month that the Sixers had taken James Harden off the trade market, but it was actually the Clippers that shut down talks between the teams, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on the latest edition of his “Hoop Collective” podcast (hat tip to Clippers Fan Nation.)

    “[The Clippers] tried to trade for James Harden, and that deal didn’t happen,” Windhorst said. “And from what I understand, it was the Clippers who said, ‘Okay, there’s no deal here. We’re gonna move on.’ And while I assume that they could certainly make a deal midseason, I assume that this is what they’re gonna go with.”

    L.A. was Harden’s preferred destination when he asked to be traded in late June after his surprise decision to pick up his $35.6M player option for next season. With L.A. not pursuing a deal, at least for the time being, there was no viable market for Harden and the Sixers stopped trying to create one.

    That decision led to an angry outburst from Harden during an appearance in China, where he called president of basketball operations Daryl Morey “a liar” and blasted team management for the way it has dealt with him over the past two years. 

    Harden also vowed that he will never be part of an organization run by Morey, a statement that will be tested when training camp opens in two weeks.

    He received a $100K fine for those comments and the league launched an investigation of whether there had been a handshake deal in place, but the Sixers were ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing.

    Although Morey shopped Harden around the league, he reportedly set the asking price so high that other teams weren’t willing to meet it, a tactic he also used when Ben Simmons asked to be dealt two years ago. 

    According to multiple reports, the Clippers were only willing to give up expiring contracts and draft picks, declining to part with young guard Terance Mann in a proposed deal.

    While the Sixers wait to see if Harden will continue to try to force his way out of Philadelphia, the Clippers appear satisfied with their current roster going into camp. Windhorst doesn’t expect L.A. to pursue any more trades until the season is underway.

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