James Harden remains with the Philadelphia 76ers as the NBA season begins, and there apparently won't be a trade involving him and the Los Angeles Clippers anytime soon.
The Clippers have decided to pause trade discussions with the Sixers over Harden for the foreseeable future, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. The organization reportedly will instead opt to see how their team performs to begin the season, with the knowledge that they are the only team to submit a serious offer for the mercurial guard.
As Wojnarowski said on ESPN's "NBA Countdown":
"At least for the foreseeable future, the Clippers are stepping back from these trade talks about James Harden. They are essentially pausing them. They have talked with Philadelphia for months about a trade. They've made their best offer for Harden. They are now going to start their season and see what this team looks like with a healthy Kawhi Leonard, a healthy Paul George.
"The Clippers may revisit this at some point, but they know they're the only bidder for James Harden. They're the only team that's made a serious offer. They don't want to bid against themselves."
Harden spent the previous 10 days away from the Sixers before returning to the team Wednesday, but he was told to stay home from the team's season opener against the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday.
On Thursday, Bleacher Report's Chris Haynes reported Harden was stopped by a security official from boarding the team's plane for the two-game, season-opening road trip. Later, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the NBA is investigating his absence to "determine whether an approved reason exists for his lack of participation."
The Clippers and the Sixers have been stuck in a holding pattern since early July, when Harden opted into his $35.6 million player option for 2023-24. He has been consistently clear about his desire to join Leonard and George in Los Angeles, but Sixers president of baseball operations Daryl Morey has been less eager to get a deal done.
A recent report claims the Clippers' current offer for Harden is an unprotected first-round pick, a first-round pick swap, young guard Terance Mann and players with the salary to make the deal legal. The Sixers have declined that offer, seeking more for their disgruntled former MVP. At one point, they were reported to be ending trade talks and requesting Harden prepare to play out the season with them.
Harden did not take that well.
The Sixers are essentially fighting a staring contest on two fronts, with the hope that it will pay off with draft capital and/or young players down the line. However, their leverage could easily change now that the season is beginning.