There was an inevitability to the 76ers trading James Harden. The veteran star’s 1.5-season tenure in Philadelphia turned out to be far more notable for the headaches he brought to the franchise and the frustration felt by their fans than for success on the court. And those wagering with PA sportsbooks that the team would make long playoff runs were disappointed as well.
ESPN reported overnight that Philadelphia traded the aging 10-time All-Star guard – whose eagerness to get out of Philly had become a tiresome and distracting soap opera – to the Los Angeles Clippers, mainly for a boatload of draft picks. In doing so, the Sixers position themselves to do at least as well as they would have with the 34-year-old Harden in the short run. More important, they are potentially far better off in the long run as they try to assemble the pieces for a championship around 29-year-old center Joel Embiid.
The Sixers have NBA title odds sitting between +1800 and +2800 with operators that offer the best PA sports betting promotions. As recently as Sept. 28, Philadelphia was sitting at +1600 with BetMGM, but as the Harden saga unfolded, their odds lengthened. The Clippers, meanwhile, are +1300 as of Tuesday morning with the operator; just last week they were +2000.
More On Harden’s Sixers Tenure
The Sixers had been eliminated in the Eastern Conference semifinals in three of the four seasons before they acquired Harden from Brooklyn in midseason 2021-22. They had Harden for the playoffs in the past two seasons, but again they were eliminated in the second round.
Particularly galling for fans was the Sixers losing a seven-game set to their bitter rivals, the Boston Celtics, in the conference semis last year after building a 3-games-to-2 lead. In Games 6 and 7, Harden was an offensive no-show. In those two crucial playoff games, Harden shot a combined 7-for-27 from the field for a total of 22 points. He dished out seven and nine assists in Games 6 and 7, respectively, but that’s not why a team pays tens-of-millions of dollars for a guy who’s supposed to get them over the top.
Harden did not play this season for the Sixers (2-1), who are still overwhelming favorites at DraftKings Pennsylvania Sportsbook to make the playoffs (their odds are -1100 to make, +650 to miss).
What Sixers Receive In Trade
The specifics of what the Sixers got in exchange for granting Harden his wish to go to Southern California are a little convoluted, but it comes to this: Lots of draft picks. Reportedly, the three-way deal involves the Sixers, the Clippers and to a lesser degree, the Oklahoma Thunder.
The Clippers get from Philly: Harden, P.J. Tucker, and Filip Petrusev.
The Sixers get from the Clippers: Marcus Morris, Robert Covington, Nic Batum, KJ Martin, a 2028 unprotected first-round pick, two second-round picks, a 2029 pick swap, and an additional first-round pick from the Oklahoma City Thunder, according to published reports. Also, a 2024 and a 2029 second-round pick.
Oklahoma City gets from the Clippers: A 2027 first-round pick swap, which allows the Thunder to move a protected 2026 first-round pick to the 76ers.
Philly has +350 odds at BetMGM Pennsylvania Sportsbook to win the Atlantic Division, well behind the Celtics (-250).
What Sixers Could Do Next
In the end, the Sixers could also have $50 million to $65 million in salary cap space to go shopping for free agent talent next summer.
It’s possible, but not very likely, the Sixers keep all of those draft picks. The picks are the collateral the Sixers might use to build their roster this season to make a playoff run.
The lesson of the Sixers pursuit of Harden is that the NBA has become a league where teams often chase championships by signing big-name stars. Sometimes it works. Sometimes, it just creates a lot of noise.
From the Sixers’ perspective in this case, at least the noise will be harder to hear from 2,400 miles away. For more coverage plus reviews of Pennsylvania sports betting apps, stick with PennStakes.com all season.