Photo Credit: FanDuel, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: James Harden wants a trade! Surprised? No?
Say it ain’t so, James. Philadelphia was supposed to be your home. You were reunited with your general manager from Houston Daryl Morey – the foremost member of the Church of Harden – and you got a chance to play with 2023 league MVP Joel Embiid. He led the NBA in scoring while you led the NBA in assists. What happened?
Well, apparently Harden isn’t happy that the Sixers aren’t happy about his, well… less than inspiring playoff numbers. Check this out:
Harden regular season numbers (w/ PHI): 79 games, 21.0 points per game, .431 FG%, 6.4 rebounds per game, 10.6 assists per game, 3.4 turnovers per game
Harden postseason numbers (w/ PHI): 23 games, 19.4 points per game, .399 FG%, 5.9 rebounds per game, 8.4 assists per game, 3.7 turnovers per game
That’s ugly. The postseason is supposed to be the time where stars take their game to the next level. Minutes restrictions? Those go out the window. It’s the time to lay everything on the line. Harden, meanwhile, withdraws like shrink-wrap. His numbers declined across the board – except for turnovers, those are up!
You’d probably expect that someone who’s had two consecutive disappointing playoff runs (and a career track-record of playoff misery) wouldn’t have that much leverage to demand a trade – and you’d be wrong. Apparently, Harden is basketball’s equivalent of Gilderoy Lockhart: except while Lockhart used his magic to make actual heroes forget their accomplishments so he could take credit, Harden uses his magic to make general managers forget how abysmal he’s been in the playoffs so he’s still a desirable trade target.
This is actually Harden’s third trade request since 2020, if anyone is counting. First, he gorged himself and sleep-walked through eight games with Houston to force a trade to Brooklyn. Then things went (predictably) south in Brooklyn, so Harden forced his way to Philly, leveraging his relationship with Morey, now the GM of the Sixers, to facilitate the deal.
Apparently though, last year was the last time we’ll see Harden in Philly. He’s off to greener pastures – and by greener pastures, I mean Los Angeles, probably. That’s the word, anyway. Harden wants to team up with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George with the Clippers, and if there’s ever been a flashier trio more destined to achieve absolutely nothing, I haven’t seen it. Since joining the Clippers back in 2019, Leonard and George have teamed up to reach the Western Conference Finals exactly one time. Now, they want to throw perennial playoff-disappointment James Harden into the mix. Oh yeah, this will go great.
It’s astonishing that anyone, even a franchise as desperate as the Clippers, could fool themselves into the idea that Harden is a winning player. He’s not. Philadelphia was, in all honesty, his best shot. For as great as Leonard and George have been in the past, they’re so injury-riddled by this stage it’ll be a miracle if they play 82 games combined. Harden isn’t going to solve any of these issues – he’s going to compound them. The Harden Experience is an infuriating one, and one the Clippers are apparently willing to dive headfirst into. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…