The Philadelphia 76ers have ended trade talks involving 10-time All-Star guard James Harden and plan to bring him back to training camp for the start of the season, setting up an uncomfortable situation with the unhappy star, sources told ESPN on Saturday.
The Sixers had periodic offseason conversations with the LA Clippers — Harden’s desired destination — but no traction on a deal materialized, sources said.
The Sixers agreed to search out a trade upon Harden’s request after he agreed to pick up his $35.6 million player option in June, but the Sixers’ asking price was steep and no teams, including the Clippers, were willing or able to meet it, sources said.
Philadelphia believes it will be a championship contender with Harden’s return alongside MVP center Joel Embiid and the team is determined to find a way to make it work with Harden this season, sources said.
Harden is unhappy with Sixers president Daryl Morey over the lack of a long-term maximum-level contract offer, sources said, and the team is risking Harden’s arrival at training camp bringing anything but a championship mindset.
Nevertheless, the Sixers have to hope that Harden’s good relationships with teammates and needing to showcase himself for a looming free agency will be factors in eventually getting him bought into the season.
Harden’s 2022 arrival with the Sixers coincided with the departure of Ben Simmons to the Brooklyn Nets, who had a previous trade standoff with Philadelphia.