James Harden has been angling for a trade to the Los Angeles Clippers for months. Such a deal has been rumored since June, when Harden opted into the final year of his contract with the Philadelphia 76ers hoping to return to his hometown and partner up with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in an effort to win his first NBA championship. Now, that deal is all but complete, and according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, Harden is “ecstatic” to be joining the Clippers.
In fact, according to Shelburne, Harden could be in attendance when the Clippers face the Orlando Magic on Tuesday in Los Angeles. He won’t be playing in that game, of course. There are still plenty of details to be worked out. As of this writing, details on a third team joining the deal and sending the 76ers another first-round pick have not been revealed. When the specifics are squared away, there will need to be a trade call with the league office and all of the players involved will need to undergo medical testing. Playing on Tuesday given that tight turnaround is simply not feasible.
However, if everything goes as planned, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Harden suits up for Wednesday’s marquee matchup with the rival Los Angeles Lakers. After that, the Clippers have a four-day break before facing the New York Knicks on Monday at Madison Square Garden.
That Knicks game is probably Harden’s likeliest debut date for the Clippers. The 76ers had been holding him out of games for the sake of conditioning, and it is not yet clear what sort of shape he will be in when he joins the Clippers. If he needs a few more days to get up to speed, the Knicks game offers him that time.
Whenever he does ultimately suit up for Los Angeles, he will give the Clippers the point guard they’ve been seeking for the entire Leonard-George era. They paid a steep price to generate that trio, but with Harden joining the two established stars, the Clippers believe they have a genuine chance to win their first championship.