James Harden is making a return to California, as he has been traded to the L.A. Clippers in a significant deal, marking the end of his tumultuous period with the Philadelphia 76ers.
This trade unfolded late on Monday night while many on the East Coast were sound asleep. Harden, along with P.J. Tucker and Filip Petrusev, will be joining the Clippers in exchange for Nicolas Batum, Marcus Morris, Robert Covington, Kenyon Martin Jr., and a bundle of draft picks, including two coveted first-round selections.
The trade was largely anticipated, with the 34-year-old Harden expressing his clear desire to part ways with Philadelphia. He voiced his discontent, alleging that Sixers General Manager Daryl Morey had been untruthful. The situation had deteriorated to the point where Harden didn’t participate in any preseason games, and when he finally reported for the season opener, the team instructed him to leave. Consequently, he never stepped onto the court for the Sixers during the current season.
The Clippers, known for their ambition to build a powerhouse roster, will now boast a star-studded lineup featuring Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Harden, and Russell Westbrook for the remainder of the 2023-24 season.
For Harden, this trade marks a bit of a homecoming, as he grew up in Southern California and played high school basketball at Artesia in Lakewood. The move has garnered enthusiasm from former NBA star Gilbert Arenas, who welcomed “CHEF HARDEN BACK HOME.”
Harden’s illustrious career, which has seen him play for the Thunder, Rockets, Nets, and Sixers, has been defined by impressive statistics, with career averages of 24.7 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 7 assists. Clippers owner Steve Ballmer is surely hoping that this acquisition will pave the way for the franchise’s first-ever NBA championship.