Report: 76ers End James Harden Trade Talks, Plan on Bringing Him Into Training Camp

Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

James Harden will remain on the Philadelphia 76ers, at least for the time being. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Saturday evening reported the team has “ended trade talks” regarding Harden and “plan to bring him back to training camp for the start of the season.”

Harden remaining with the Sixers always felt inevitable. Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey made it clear throughout the offseason he would not pull the trigger on a Harden trade unless he received a star-level return.

“If we don’t get either a very good player or something we can turn into a very good player, we’re just not going to do it,” Morey said in an interview with Anthony Gargano on 97.5 The Fanatic back on July 18.

Wojnarowski echoed those sentiments, reporting the team “wouldn’t make a trade that they believed would compromise their title hopes.” Harden’s desire is to be traded to the Los Angeles Clippers. Wojnarowski reported the Sixers had conversations with Los Angeles but “no traction on a deal materialized.” With the Clippers reportedly being unwilling to give up either Terance Mann or draft capital, there was no obvious route to a deal being close to coming together.

Where does this leave the Harden situation going forward? The Sixers, throughout the offseason, have consistently said their desire is to have Harden return to the team. Morey, in that same 97.5 The Fanatic interview, said “If James [Harden] were to turn his mind around, we would all be thrilled.” Harden is still a very good regular season player, averaging 21 points and a league-leading 10.7 assists per game last season. The Sixers, as currently constructed with Harden on the roster, remain one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. However, a team led by Harden and reigning MVP Joel Embiid has not proven good enough to compete deep into the postseason.

The Sixers are taking a major gamble on Harden cooperating and not causing problems in the locker room. Multiple reports indicated the excellent relationship between Harden and Morey has come to an end. Shams Charania of The Athletic went on Bally Sports’ show “The Rally” on July 17 and said the relationship has “essentially severed.” Michael Scotto of HoopsHype confirmed that sentiment on August 5, reporting “it’s been a while since they’ve spoken, and their relationship is done.”

Harden, in an attempt to force his way out, could show up to training camp and cause major problems. After all, he has a history of successfully forcing his way out from both the Houston Rockets and Brooklyn Nets. Things historically have not gone well once Harden makes up his mind he wants to leave a respective team. Doing that again, either by sitting out or otherwise being a gigantic distraction, does come with some risk for Harden. He is going to be a free agent in 2024, and the already thin market for him is only going to get smaller if he forces his way out from yet another team.

Morey recently went through a similar situation with Ben Simmons in the 2021-22 season. He held out until he received an offer he deemed worthy of accepting, ultimately sending Simmons in a package to Brooklyn for Harden at the trade deadline. However, the Harden situation is likely going to get much uglier than the Simmons one ever did. Waiting out the market in this case is going to be far more difficult than it was two years ago.

While things currently look bleak and full of uncertainty, there is always a chance trade talks could pick back up at any point in time. For now, it appears the two sides are running headlong into each other, making for a very uncomfortable training camp.