While 10-time All-Star James Harden still remains on the Philadelphia 76ers' roster, that may not be true for long, as the relationship between Harden and Sixers continues to grow strained in the City of Brotherly Love.
Of course, the Sixers' resistance to sending Harden to another is more about the trade package they want in return more than any nefarious plans to hold him against his will. Sixers president Daryl Morey may even be delusional enough to believe that he can prompt a change of heart from the former MVP and Sixth Man of the Year.
However, as unchanging as Philly's drama is, Harden's desire to be traded to the Los Angeles Clippers is apparently just as immutable. Much like how Portland Trail Blazers star guard Damian Lillard continues to be tied to the Miami Heat, the Clippers are almost exclusively seen as Harden's future team.
Why the Clippers?
The question is why though? Championship-contender status aside, the Los Angeles Clippers have even an even more concerning outlook on the health of their marquee players than the Philadelphia 76ers. So much so that L.A. was even rumored to be considering a premature end to the Kawhi Leonard and Paul George era.
“You saw Kawhi Leonard play last year when he wasn't hurt,” HoopsHype insider Michael Scotto writes of this specific concern for James Harden. “It's the same kind of risk factor there with Joel Embiid. Both are star players with injury-prone careers at times.”
Ultimately though, it is the fact that the Clippers are a championship-caliber team that landed them on his short list. As well as the fact that Harden, an L.A. native, is looking for a place that he truly feels the love.
“He's been looking for a place where he's loved and appreciated from a basketball fit,” Scotto says, sparking memories of Harden's rumored interest in a return to the Houston Rockets. “For him, it's an amazing market and an opportunity for James to play where he grew up.”
Last but not least, the infrastructure of the organization and their sense of urgency is to be considered, per Scotto.
“Harden, Kawhi, and Paul George are all a little later in their careers, so the urgency is there, and cohesiveness should be there with a great owner that’s willing to spend… I think you also have to look at the coaching factor, which could be appealing there…”