Los Angeles Clippers a Favorite to Add James Harden in a Trade

Posted on: July 1, 2023, 11:05h. 

Last updated on: July 3, 2023, 09:33h.

The Philadelphia 76ers and guard James Harden are headed for a divorce. The Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks are among the betting favorites to land Harden in a trade from the 76ers, with the Clippers at -250 odds and the Knicks at +650.

James Harden
Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden, seen here bringing the ball up the court at Wells Fargo Arena, is the subject of off-season trade rumors sending him to the Los Angeles Clippers. (Image: Getty)

Harden turns 34-years old in August. He averaged 21 points, 10.7 assists, and 6.1 rebounds per game last season with the 76ers. He scaled back his scoring and led the league in assists while he took on the role of playmaker who set up his teammates. Although Harden only averaged seven 3-point attempts per game this season, he knocked down 38.5% of his 3-pointers, which was the second-best percentage of his career and his best clip in a decade.

Several teams are in the running for Harden’s services, according to a prop bet from DraftKings. The Clippers are the outright favorite to secure Harden in a trade at -250 odds. The 76ers are +380 odds to retain Harden for the start of the season. But they could still potentially deal him later in the season.

The Knicks are third on the betting board at +650 odds to add Harden in a trade, followed by the Miami Heat at +800, Dallas Mavericks (+1200), Rockets (++1600), Los Angeles Lakers (+2000), Phoenix Suns (+2500), New Orleans Pelicans (+4000), Minnesota Timberwolves (+4000), Milwaukee Bucks (+5000), Portland Trail Blazers (+5000), and Oklahoma City Thunder (+5000).

Quickie Divorce Between the 76ers and Harden

The 76ers (54-28) secured the #3 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, but had another disappointing postseason exit when they were eliminated by the Boston Celtics in the conference semifinals. The team parted ways with head coach Doc Rivers and hired Nick Nurse.

Free agency officially started on Friday. But all signs last weekend suggested that Harden would explore free agency and sign with another team instead of opting in for a final year of his contract. The Houston Rockets, one of Harden’s former teams, emerged as betting favorites to add Harden in free agency.

Earlier this week, The Athletic reported that Harden would not explore free agency. Instead, he would exercise a player option for the 2023-24 season worth $35.6 million. The 76ers said they would explore trade options and field offers for Harden, and Harden indicated that he’d prefer to join the Clippers.

When oddsmakers opened the NBA futures markets for next season in early June, the 76ers were +1300 odds to win the 2023-24 NBA championship. The 76ers are currently +1500 odds amidst all the Harden drama.

The Beard Goes to Hollywood: Clippers -250

The Athletic floated a Harden trade scenario to the Clippers in a recent article. The 76ers would send Harden and forward Tobias Harris to the Clippers in exchange for guard Paul George, sixth man Norman Powell, and forward Marcus Morris Sr.

The Clippers have been soft shopping George in the media over the last two weeks. Several rumors suggested the Clippers would trade George to the Knicks, but the local media in the Big Apple quickly dispelled those rumors. However, in the last 24 hours, a swap for Harden and George has been gaining momentum.

Harden Returns to NYC: Knicks +650

The Knicks are often mentioned in high-profile trade rumors. But they seldom come to fruition like the ubiquitous Damian Lillard trade rumor that won’t die down.

During the 2023 playoffs, multiple talking heads were calling for the Knicks to trade forward Julius Randle. When the postseason ended, rumors surfaced that the Knicks were looking at trading Randle to the Minnesota Timberwolves for big man Karl-Anthony Towns, or send Randle to the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for forward Brandon Ingram.

Shortly after the 76ers fired Rivers, airwaves were filled with trade chatter involving the Knicks and center Joel Embiid.

Harden forced a trade from the Brooklyn Nets in 2022, but could he return to Gotham to play for the Knicks? Fans in the tri-state area have mixed feelings about Harden returning to New York City. If the Knicks work out a trade with the 76ers, then Embiid is the preferred target and not Harden.

Any trade package for Harden would entail the Knicks dealing swingman RJ Barrett, sixth man Josh Hart, backup point guard Immanuel Quickly and a first-round draft pick.

South Beach Harden: Heat +800

The Miami Heat secured the #8 playoff seed through the play-in tournament, but then got hot in the playoffs and ran the table to win the Eastern Conference title. They ran out of gas in the NBA Finals,  lacking the fire power to keep up with Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and the Denver Nuggets.

The Heat have had the hots for Bradley Beal for a couple of seasons, but they were unable to work out a trade. The Washington Wizards dealt Beal to the Phoenix Suns in an unexpected trade, which sent ripples through the NBA. The Suns dealt point guard Chris Paul to the Wizards in the Beal trade, but the Wizards quickly flipped Paul to the Golden State Warriors.

In the meantime, the Heat shifted their focus on adding Damian Lillard in a trade with the Portland Trail Blazers. Earlier this week, the Trail Blazers shot down the Heat’s best trade offer. But the Heat are not going to give up so easily.

Although the Lillard trade talks cooled down, the Heat could make a pitch for Harden in a deal that includes forward Caleb Martin, a pair of first-round picks, and either point guard Kyle Lowry or shooting guard Tyler Herro.

The Heat need help in their backcourt. They already lost guards Gabe Vincent and Max Strus in free agency, and traded Victor Oladipo to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the last 24 hours.

Rip City Harden: Trail Blazers +5000

The Portland Trail Blazers won one NBA championship during the 1976-77 season, when they were led by a bearded hippie named Bill Walton. The Trail Blazers have not won a title in 46 years, despite a pair of NBA Finals appearances in the early 1990s. Could another bearded NBA star finally lead the Trail Blazers back to the promised land?

The Trail Blazers stated their intentions to build a championship squad around Damian Lillard. They did not trade the #3 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft despite numerous offers from teams seeking to move up in the draft. They retained their lottery pick and selected guard Scoot Henderson instead.

If the 76ers trade Harden to the Pacific Northwest, then the Trail Blazers can form a Lillard/Harden backcourt. If that happens, the Trail Blazers would have to send recently-drafted Henderson and either one of their top up-and-coming guards, Anfernee Simons or Shaedon Sharpe, to the 76ers.

However, on Saturday morning, Shams Charania reported that Lillard officially requested a trade, and that the Heat and 76ers are leading candidates to land the seven-time NBA All-Star. The 76ers and Trail Blazers are currently discussing a swap for Harden and Lillard.