James Harden has been connected in a trade to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for Ben Simmons for months. While that doesn't seem likely to happen at this year's trade deadline (or does it?), another team has entered the mix for his services. The Los Angeles Clippers are being named in rumors connected to the former MVP.
Behind the scenes there's a lot of chirping that this could actually happen. The Athletic's Sam Amick acknowledged the Clippers as a potential on Tuesday, and whispers have continued to grow ever since. The Clippers have the salaries to match a deal and give the Brooklyn Nets players who could actually help them this season.
If the Clippers sent Marcus Morris (15.6 million), Luke Kennard ($13.3 million) and Serge Ibaka (9.7 million), a trade for Harden's $44.3 million deal would work. The Clippers would almost certainly have to attach draft assets to make things work, but it's certainly doable.
If Harden truly is discontented in Brooklyn, the Nets should get something for him now before he hits free agency this summer. Harden has a $47.4 million player option for the 2022-23 season and is unlikely to opt out, but he certainly could. He could also force a trade. If the Nets have designs on chasing a title, they need help.
As a team Brooklyn currently ranks 16th in 3-point shooting percentage (35.2) and Joe Harris is out for the season after undergoing surgery on his left ankle. The Nets need shooters. Kennard (43.0 percent), Ibaka (38.7 percent) and Morris (38.3 percent) can all fill it up from deep, and are the kinds of players Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant need around them.
The Nets are currently eighth in the Eastern Conference and are squarely in the play-in tournament. The three-headed monster they tried to bring together hasn't worked (if only they had listened to me). If they truly want to attempt a run this season they need useful pieces. Shipping Harden to the Clippers could acquire those useful pieces.
As for the Clippers, they sit eighth in the Western Conference and have no juice. They're going nowhere fast. Adding Harden would give their lagging offense a jolt and potentially create a Big 3 of Harden, Paul George and Kawhi Leonard for the 2022-23 season. If nothing else, it'd be more fun to watch that the slog that has been this season.
The Sixers makes a ton of sense as a Harden trade destination. But don't count out the Clippers.