How Damian Lillard’s Request Affects the James Harden Trade

Two of the biggest stars in the game – James Harden and Damian Lillard have gotten themselves into quite the predicament with their respective teams.

Harden unexpectedly picked up his $35.6 million player option for the 2023-24 season, but only because him and the Sixers are exploring trade options.

Plenty of suitors for The Beard emerged, including the Clippers, Heat and Knicks but returns on opt-in trades usually aren’t very strong, so we may have ourselves another Ben Simmons situation folks.

“…Harden is guaranteed to become an unrestricted free agent next summer since he’s ineligible to sign an extension,” Forbes’ Bryan Toporek said. “That could limit how much the Clippers and other potential suitors are willing to dangle in trade talks.”

Philly’s president Daryl Morey is known for holding out on making a trade and according to NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski, “it’s more than conceivable” that Harden will still be in Philadelphia come training camp – or even beyond then.

“That’s been Daryl Morey’s track record of not just giving away an asset and they do have time on their side in the offseason,” Wojnarowski said on ESPN. “But they’ll be engaged with teams…

“I do think that with [Damian] Lillard being on the market… it can make it harder for [the Philadelphia 76ers] if teams are prioritizing a Damian Lillard trade but there might be a way where there’s a multi-team deal that allows all of them to get what they want. Those typically don’t come together very quickly.”

 

Lillard requesting out of Portland means that the Heat will be one less team focused on acquiring a player like Harden.

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Miami beat reporter Ira Winderman revealed the franchise are extremely focused on Lillard, in fact.

“Take anyone you want besides Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler… ,” Winderman said. “The Heat are all-in on this. This is their moment.”

If Miami are out of the market, it also gives the Sixers one less team to drive up a potential bidding war for Harden, which isn’t ideal.

If the 76ers don’t get the asking price they want for Harden, Morey can flat out refuse to trade the 10-time All-Star.

We may just have ourselves a good old fashioned stand off, so don’t expect a Harden trade to be pushed through anytime soon.

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