NBA exec on James Harden’s situation: ‘This will get ugly enough to where James gets himself out of there’

Jesse Cinquini
3 Min Read
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been well over two months since Philadelphia 76ers star guard James Harden requested a trade, yet he’s still a member of the team.

Recently, a Western Conference executive weighed in on the Harden situation.

“This will get ugly enough to where James gets himself out of there,” the executive told ESPN.

Harden was selected with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft following a two-season stint playing college basketball at Arizona State University. He averaged 17-plus points per game and three-plus assists per game in each of his two seasons as a member of the Sun Devils.

The 6-foot-5 guard’s best season of college basketball came during the 2008-09 season, his sophomore season. Harden averaged 20.1 points, 4.2 assists, 5.6 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game in 35 appearances with the Sun Devils (all starts).

The 34-year-old has played for four teams — the Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Brooklyn Nets and 76ers — across his 14 seasons in the NBA. He averaged 21.0 points, 6.1 rebounds and a league-high 10.7 assists per game across 58 games played with the 76ers during the 2022-23 regular season (all starts).

Interestingly, those numbers weren’t good enough for Harden to earn an All-Star or All-NBA nod.

Unfortunately for 76ers fans, Harden wasn’t able to carry over his play from the 2022-23 regular season into the 2023 postseason. He averaged 20.3 points and 8.3 assists per game in 11 playoff games but shot just 39.3 percent from the field.

Harden was particularly inefficient in scoring the ball in Philadelphia’s first-round series against his former team, the Nets. He converted just 34.3 percent of his field-goal attempts for the series, though the 76ers had no trouble beating the Nets as they eliminated them in four games.

Against the Boston Celtics in the second round of the playoffs, Harden shot 42.2 percent from the field, an unspectacular percentage but much improved from the first round.

Seeing as Harden has made it clear for months now that he no longer wants to be a member of the 76ers, the team should look to trade him as soon as possible, ideally before the start of the 2023-24 regular season. Here’s to hoping that Harden will be playing for a different team when the regular season tips off in October.

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Jesse is an aspiring sports journalist that has previously worked as a staff writer at SB Nation’s CelticsBlog and The Knicks Wall.