James Harden Picks up His Option, Expected to be Traded
It seems James Harden has played his last game in Philadelphia. Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that he will pick up his player option worth $35.6 million. But it is apparently not with the intention of playing for the Sixers. The two sides are working together to explore trade options. This is just the first domino to fall for him being moved out of Philadelphia.
BREAKING: 76ers G James Harden is picking up his $35.6 million option and sides are beginning to work together in exploring trade scenarios, sources tell ESPN. It’s expected that Harden has played his last game for Philadelphia. pic.twitter.com/GguWgysfNZ— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 29, 2023
Recently it seemed like Harden returning was more likely. The Houston Rockets at the start of the offseason were the expected destination. But as the offseason moved on, it seemed like they were not actually interested in bringing him back at the deal he wanted. Harden reportedly wants a long term deal. The Rockets were not willing to give him that. Now it seems the Sixers don’t have interest in that either.
Harden first joined the sixers in the middle of the 2021-2022 season. The Sixers moved Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, and Andre Drummond, along with several picks, to bring in the former MVP. A hamstring injury limited him though for that half season. Following an Embiid eye injury, they went out in the 2nd round to the Heat. But Harden seemed like a new man the next season. He made it through the season mostly healthy, and led the league with assists. But the results in the playoffs were the same. Another 2nd round exit as they fell to the Celtics in 7 games. Harden looked like an MVP in two of those games. But in 4 of the other games he looked like he did in 2021. Leaving many Sixers fans ready to move on. Now they will get their wish.
What is next for the Sixers is not clear. They will need a new primary ball handler if they are really going to move on from James Harden. That could be Tyrese Maxey, but he is not a natural point guard. The answer to their point guard needs could come via whomever they trade Harden to, but until we know what team wants him, we wont know who that player would be.
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