James Harden exercising contract option; 76ers will explore trade: reports

James Harden has likely played his final game in a Philadelphia 76ers uniform. 

Harden is picking up his $35.6 million player option with the club, and the Sixers are exploring trade scenarios, according to multiple reports. 

Joel Embiid and James Harden play against the Celtics

Joel Embiid (21) and James Harden (1) of the Philadelphia 76ers against the Boston Celtics in Game 6 of the 2023 Eastern Conference semifinals at Wells Fargo Center May 11, 2023, in Philadelphia.   (Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks are expected to emerge as possible trade destinations for the 10-time All-Star, according to ESPN. 


The 76ers traded for Harden during the 2021-22 season, sending Ben Simmons to the Brooklyn Nets, and Philadelphia believed it had found Joel Embiid’s sidekick for the forseeable future.  

In his two seasons in Philadelphia, Harden averaged 21.0 points, 10.6 assists and 6.4 rebounds per game alongside Embiid, who was named the NBA’s MVP this past season. 

James Harden prepares for free throw

James Harden of the Philadelphia 76ers prepares to shoot a free throw during a game against the New York Knicks Feb. 10, 2023, at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. (Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Sixers failed to reach the Eastern Conference finals for the 22nd consecutive season when they lost in seven games to the Boston Celtics in May.

With the team once again falling short of expectations, the Sixers’ front office made an immediate change, firing head coach Doc Rivers after three seasons. 

James Harden shoots a free throw in the NBA Playoffs

James Harden of the Philadelphia 76ers prepares to shoot a free throw against the Boston Celtics during Game 6 of the 2023 NBA Eastern Conference semifinals May 11, 2023, at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.  (Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

Championship-winning coach Nick Nurse was hired soon after, saying he’d welcome Harden back if Harden decided to stay in Philadelphia. 

“James has a decision to make, and I’d be very happy if he came back,” Nurse said when he was hired.

Harden will turn 34 in August, entering his 15th NBA season. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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