According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the LA Clippers have reached an agreement with the Philadelphia 76ers to acquire James Harden. The full trade is as follows: Marcus Morris, Robert Covington, Nico Batum, KJ Martin, and draft compensation for James Harden, PJ Tucker, and Filip Petrušev.

The draft compensation is headlined by the Clippers’ unprotected 2028 first round pick, the real jewel of this package. Wojnarowski also reports that the Clippers are sending the Sixers a pick swap, presumably LAC’s 2027 first round swap unprotected, and 2 future second round picks, along with a pick rerouted from another team.

Harden brings an immediate game-changing impact to the Clippers’ offense, coming off of a season in Philadelphia where he averaged 21 points and a league-leading 10.7 assists per game. He is immediately the most qualified Clipper point guard since Chris Paul and instantly gives the team a legitimate third star for the first time since Paul George and Kawhi Leonard came to LA. Of course, Harden isn’t without flaws: his playoff inconcistencies are well-documented (though that should be less of a concern in this role as a tertiary scorer after being the number one perimeter playmaker in Houston and Philly), his defensive motor is suspect, and he’s in the final year of his contract with an incredibly tumultuous recent track record of forcing his way out of teams.

Tucker, a long-rumored Clipper, likely joins the team a couple of years too late, as his days as an effective NBA role player seem to be over. The Clippers will likely turn to him for toughness in certain matchups, especially in playoff moments, but I actually wouldn’t mind seeing rookie Kobe Brown get reps over him in the regular season. The real motivation for Tucker’s inclusion was the Sixers’ desire to offload his contract, which has 2 years remaining, and instead bring in Covington and Batum, better players at the same position who are on expiring deals instead. Similarly, Petrušev, the 50th pick in the 2021 NBA Draft who is currently in his rookie season, was likely included just because the Sixers otherwise would have needed to cut him to make roster space to facilitate the trade.

The Clippers will certainly miss Batum and Covington, as this deal leaves them thin at the forward positions and causes their team defense to take a hit. But on aggregate, there is no doubt that this is a massive talent upgrade for a team that has long been stuck 12-deep with no true high-end starters aside from their two stars. I expect that Harden will join Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, and Ivica Zubac in the starting lineup with Bones Hyland, Norman Powell, Terance Mann, PJ Tucker, and Mason Plumlee rounding out the second unit.

Lucas Hann

Lucas Hann

Lucas has covered the Clippers since 2011, and has been credentialed by the team since 2014. He co-founded 213Hoops with Robert Flom in January 2020.  He is a graduate of Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, CA and St. John's University in Queens, NY.  He earned his MA in Communication and Rhetorical Studies from Syracuse University.

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