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July 04, 2023

NBA rumors: Sixers would still 'love to keep' James Harden

The latest NBA trade rumors suggest the Sixers could keep James Harden after all. What does it mean?

Another day, another James Harden rumor that will surely infuriate Philadelphians who simply want to wipe their hands clean of this situation. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski gave a new update on Harden's status with the Sixers, stating that the team would "still love to keep" him after he opted into his 2023-24 player option, particularly because of his relationship with president of basketball operations Daryl Morey.

Here's video of Wojnarowski's ESPN segment on Harden:

And a transcript:

You have an organization that would still love to keep him in Philadelphia for the season. Daryl Morey, their president, he's got a long history with James Harden and certainly, if there's a way, as the summer goes on, to try to convince him that they can still make this work together, that he has a chance to compete for a championship. They've got a new coach, Nick Nurse, with the Sixers. But at the same time, they are talking to other teams. The Clippers remain a team very interested in James Harden. They've been looking for a point guard for the last couple years.

I think those are conversations that'll evolve, but you saw what Daryl Morey did a couple of years ago with Ben Simmons. He slow played it. They were unsuccessful in getting Ben Simmons back in the fold, but they didn't have the relationship with Simmons that this group does have, especially Morey has with Harden, but I think this is going to be, again, like Portland's situation, one that may play out over the summer. There may be no quick resolution. We have a lot of time before training camp in September.

Posturing. Posturing. Posturing.

This smells like a leverage play to me. Harden staying in Philly after how this summer has already unfolded feels untenable. Morey wants the league to think he's comfortable keeping Harden in order to squeeze out the most value for him in an eventual trade. The Ben Simmons comparison isn't quite apt for me because Simmons had several years of team control on his contract when the Sixers dealt him in 2022. Harden is an unrestricted free agent next summer. If this dance continues into the season, Harden's value on the trade market will drop sharply. 

Until Harden either suits up for the Sixers in October or is moved to Los Angeles or another city, stay tuned to PhillyVoice for the latest Harden updates.

MORE: What went wrong between Harden and the Sixers?

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