James Harden has made it clear that he is ready to move on from the Philadelphia 76ers. Whether he gets traded between now and the trade deadline or simply becomes a free agent next offseason is anyone’s guess.
However, NBA legend Paul Pierce apparently believes that the former MVP could be out of the league after this season, a possibility that would certainly stun many.
“This could possibly be James Harden’s last year in the league,” said Pierce. “I mean, think about it — he’s made a lot of money. And this has nothing to do with his game. But we saw this happen with Allen Iverson. We saw it happen with Melo (Carmelo Anthony), even though Melo chose to play a certain role and got back in and played a few years. But James wants to play a certain way. What style fits to where James Harden can go and they can welcome him with open arms and say, ‘This is your team,’ or, ‘Are you gon’ play a role here?'”
The Harden saga has persisted in Philadelphia, and it has become apparent that the situation may remain tense while the 34-year-old continues to wear a Sixers uniform.
However, team executive Daryl Morey has maintained his relatively high asking price in trade talks for Harden’s services, which reportedly includes two first-round draft picks. Morey has seemingly engaged in trade talks with the Los Angeles Clippers, but both sides are playing hardball, with the Sixers said to be hoping for the inclusion of former Clippers draftee Terance Mann.
As for Los Angeles, it understands that no other organization has entered the bidding war, so it isn’t too keen on giving up a ton of assets for the 10-time All-Star, whose game could decline further this season.
Harden has perhaps started to make things uncomfortable for the Sixers, not showing up for practices recently. However, he has few reasons to continue to be a no-show because he could be penalized if he withholds services for more than 30 days thanks to a rule in the latest CBA. The penalty is that he wouldn’t be considered a free agent next offseason, which could further extend his stay in Philadelphia.
Unfortunately for Harden, he has little leverage in his impasse with the Sixers organization, and as the situation drags on, the chances of Pierce’s prediction coming to life perhaps increase.
Only time will tell how the drama between Philadelphia and its star ends. The franchise is also on the clock, as it is presumably seeking to maximize its title window with Joel Embiid as its cornerstone.