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Philadelphia 76ers trade James Harden to Los Angeles Clippers

A saga that stretched from the summer into the regular season finally ended Tuesday as the Philadelphia 76ers traded James Harden to the Los Angeles Clippers.

The drama started when Harden called Sixers general manager Daryl Morey a "liar" twice while saying he did not want to be in the same organization as Morey.

This happened after Harden opted into the last year of his contract, presumably based on the promise that the Sixers would either sign him to a max contract extension or trade him to LA.

Harden made it clear to the Sixers front office that he wanted to end up with the Clippers. Reports had said that Morey wouldn't make a deal unless it included Clippers guard Terance Mann.

But Morey finally budged without landing Mann. We'll dig into both team's hauls from the deal and how it impacts their respective futures.

Track all the trades and free agent deals to go down this NBA offseason here.

Harden to LA with Tucker, Petrusev

Harden, the reigning NBA assists leader, is the big prize from the Clippers' perspective. He brings a ball-dominant presence that should create scoring opportunities for Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

Once he gets himself back into game shape, this version of Harden - a premier playmaker rather than the MVP-level scorer he used to be - should fit in well alongside prolific wing scorers George and Leonard.

Harden averaged 21 points and 10.7 assists in 58 games last season. He may find even more assist opportunities with star teammates capable of making catch-and-shoot threes while also working in a pick-and-roll with a serviceable center in Ivica Zubac.

PJ Tucker will add a level of toughness that any team aiming for a deep playoff run could use. He will likely fill the power forward spot previously filled by three of the players sent to Philly in the deal.

Filip Petrusev, a 7-foot rookie center out of Gonzaga, is the final piece in the deal. He played overseas since he was drafted in 2021, averaging 10.7 points and 5.2 rebounds in 22.7 minutes per game in last season's EuroLeague with FK Crvena Zvezda.

Sixers get four role players and picks

Though they did not land Mann, the Sixers got a nice return for Harden in Robert Covington, Marcus Morris, Nic Batum, and KJ Martin, plus two first-round picks, two second-round picks, and a pick swap.

All four players can contribute now for the Sixers. Philly cut veteran wing Danny Green to make the deal work.

Covington is a former Sixer who made his name in Philly as a 3-and-D guy who can guard his opponent's best player while making threes at a league-average rate.

Morris is a Philadelphia native who has made himself into a solid stretch-four since he was drafted out of Kansas in 2011. He brings a level of intensity similar to that of Tucker, who went the other way in the deal.

The third veteran wing the Sixers got in the trade is Batum. He has made himself into an above-average three-point shooter in the past few seasons and will provide useful depth in Philly.

The one young player the Sixers landed is KJ Martin, the son of former NBA player Kenyon Martin. KJ worked his way into the Houston Rockets' starting lineup last season before he landed in LA in a five-team trade that sent Dillon Brooks to the Rockets.

Martin is just starting his fourth NBA season but is still 22 years old and coming off a season where he averaged a career-high 12.7 points. He will compete with Kelly Oubre and Danuel House for minutes off the bench but likely won't be asked to contribute a ton for a team aiming for a deep playoff run.

Philly also received a protected 2026 first-round pick by way of the Oklahoma City Thunder, an unprotected 2028 first-round pick from the Clippers, a pick swap in 2029, and two second-round picks.

What changes for Sixers, Clippers?

The Clippers' odds to win the 2023/24 NBA championship shortened from +1600 in preseason to +1200 after the trade. The Sixers' title odds did not budge post-trade, staying at +2200.

As is the case with most superstar trades, the team acquiring the marquee name had to sacrifice depth. By adding two NBA-ready players and trading away four, the Clippers effectively are two men short in their rotation.

The Clippers who can contribute in the NBA are Harden, George, Leonard, Zubac, Tucker, Mann, Russell Westbrook, Bones Hyland, Mason Plumlee, and Norman Powell. 

Coach Tyronn Lue likely can get away with that rotation on most nights, but they are an injury away from shortening their bench or relying on Brandon Boston Jr., Kobe Brown, or Amir Coffey to play big minutes off the bench.

Perhaps the larger concern is how Mann, Hyland, Zubac and Plumlee are likely bit-part postseason players and Harden's production tends to drop off once the regular season ends.

As the lack of movement in the odds shows, not much changes for the Sixers except the team's depth.

Coach Nick Nurse and the rest of the Sixers were not preparing to rely on Harden after his antics over the summer. Nurse has given the keys to the offense to Tyrese Maxey to decent effect three games into the season: Philly lost to the Milwaukee Bucks before beating the Portland Trail Blazers and Toronto Raptors.

The addition of four wings gives Nurse flexibility and experience. The new guys do not push the Sixers into the title favorites conversation, but if the standings align in the team's favor, they could help Philly past their usual second-round playoff exit if Nurse uses them right and they make their shots.

View the latest odds to win the 2023/24 NBA Championship here

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