James Harden is, for now, still a member of the Philadelphia 76ers. He would like for that not to be the case by the time the 2023-24 season starts, as he has requested to be traded and, more specifically, requested to be traded to the L.A. Clippers.
It is a situation not unlike what Portland finds itself in with Damian Lillard’s trade request to Miami, but the difference is, there’s not even really a hope of finding another suitor for Harden. A team could talk themselves into Dame begrudgingly playing for them given he has four years remaining on his deal, but with Harden on an expiring deal after picking up his player option, there’s no long-term potential upside to trading for him if he does not want to be there. As such, the Sixers can only hope to apply pressure to the Clippers to put a better offer on the table by threatening to drag this out into the season.
The problem with that is, Harden won’t just disappear like Ben Simmons did, as he will report to camp and apply pressure in the manner he’s perfected. Harden is as good as there is at making things so uncomfortable that a team acquiesces to his trade demand, as he’s pulled it off twice in the last few years — first with Houston and then with Brooklyn. After Daryl Morey, who was once tight with Harden but now is decidedly not, made it publicly known that he wouldn’t trade Harden if the right offer came long, Harden appears to have responded in kind.
Harden posted an Instagram story on Thursday that simply read: Been comfortable for so long. It’s time to get uncomfortable.
Either Harden recently watched Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One and was inspired by seeing Tom Cruise jump a motorcycle off a cliff and wants to get into pushing his own limits with daring stunts, or, more likely, he is issuing a mild threat about what’s to come for the Sixers if they don’t figure out this trade with the Clippers.