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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Charles Curtis

James Harden trade grades: Who won the 76ers – Clippers deal?


That’s right, the deal we’ve all been waiting for involving the disgruntled (again) Harden has reportedly happened, with the veteran guard on his way to the Los Angeles Clippers, his preferred destination.

Weeks of negotiations between Harden’s now-old team, the Philadelphia 76ers and the Clips felt like it took weeks, but here we are. Harden is a Clipper, giving the team that’s always felt like it’s been on the precipice another weapon, albeit another older player who may rest a bunch like his fellow stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George (not the worst thing! But then you’ve got to be ready for the playoffs!).

Let’s grade this thing:

The deal

Per multiple reports:

76ers get: Marcus Morris, Robert Covington, Nic Batum, KJ Martin, a 2028 first-round pick (unprotected), a 2029 pick swap, two second-round picks, and a first-round pick from a third team

Clippers get: James Harden, P.J. Tucker, Filip Petrusev

Philadelphia 76ers

Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

There are a lot of NBA fans with the same thought: How could the Sixers not get a notable player like Terance Mann in this deal?

The answer is simple: There was no leverage there. Harden was very publicly unhappy, and we’re talking about a 34-year-old Harden here, even though he had a terrific year in Philly last season. Dude only played 58 games!

So Daryl Morey maybe tried to get Mann back, was probably rebuffed, and got back some veteran players with expiring deals and some future first-rounders, which are nothing to sneeze at. What does that all tell me? The Sixers are loaded up to swing another deal.

It’s a trade that looks worse on paper than it actually is. Now, they can move past the Harden drama and focus on winning games to keep Joel Embiid happy. Will they? That’s the part of this trade we don’t know. Mann would have been really nice, but it wasn’t happening.


Los Angeles Clippers

Brian Westerholt-USA TODAY Sports

Harden is happy! The California native will leave a franchise he was unhappy about and will contend right away in L.A. And a happy Harden is a motivated Harden. Also: Reunited with Russell Westbrook!

Here’s the thing with the Clippers: They didn’t have trade Mann and they added someone who, on paper, COULD be dangerous for opponents. With Leonard and George, there was always that feeling that they needed a third star. They’ve got him, and as long as this team makes the playoffs and — the big if — if they’re all healthy heading in, they may be a team no one wants to face.

As for the trade itself? Solid. This grade could change depending on how it all plays out later, though.


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