Things might be starting to get spicy in Philadelphia. James Harden, who requested a trade to the Clippers early in the summer, did not show up to practice today after being a “good soldier” last week. Then, about an hour ago, Sam Amick of the Athletic published an article detailing updates in the trade talks between the Clippers and Sixers.
Per Amick, the Sixers are now willing to accept an offer of an unprotected first round pick, a swap, Terance Mann, and matching salaries for Harden. This is kind of a big deal, as their previous asking price was Mann, two first round picks, and a swap. A whole first round pick has been taken off the board here.
The Clippers, however, are not budging on Mann, and refuse to put him in the deal. On one hand, I can respect the negotiating and the desire to keep Mann, who is good, cost-controlled, and fills a huge need for the Clippers. On the other, Terance is not young anymore. At 27, he probably is who he is – a very good role player who could be the 5th starter on a great team. Trading Mann, expirings, and picks for Harden would be a huge blow to future assets, and losing Mann would severely deplete the Clippers’ athleticism and perimeter defense. I get it. If Mann is really holding up the trade for a guy who averaged 21 and 11 with 61% True Shooting last year, the Clippers had better play him this year.
A last interesting note from the piece is that Amick is reporting the Sixers already have deals lined up with other teams to get at least one first round pick for Mann. This makes sense – the Sixers want assets to trade for a star, and also a clean cap next summer – and explains why they no longer need the second first from the Clippers if they’re getting another for Mann.
All in all, while I understand the Clippers’ hesitancy, ultimately, I think I would do a deal with Mann, Marcus, RoCo/Nico, 2028 first, and a 2027 swap for Harden. That still keeps some future assets (2029 and 2030 picks), young guys (Bones, KJ Martin, Kobe Brown), and veteran depth while landing a true third star who was a fringe All-NBA caliber player last year.
The Clippers’ hesitation for this trade could be for any number of reasons. Maybe they refuse to raise their offer with none out there. Maybe they think Harden isn’t as good as numbers suggest. Maybe they have no interest in paying him next summer. Or maybe, as some have speculated, they have given up on the Kawhi-PG core winning a championship, and are not throwing any real assets away to raise their odds slightly.
Who knows. But Morey, for all of his irritation and frustration, has conceded ground, and if the Clippers do ever decide to make Mann available, it seems like a deal for Harden can get done.