Sixers’ Daryl Morey lays out what he expects back in Harden trade. Good luck with that.

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James Harden and 76ers president Daryl Morey

James Harden and 76ers president Daryl Morey

We must
start here: There is no update on a possible James Harden trade. There is no movement, things remain at a stalemate. Harden wants a trade, specifically to the Clippers, but Sixers GM Daryl Morey reportedly has sky-high trade demands for Harden and the Clippers reportedly are unmotivated to meet them. No other teams have seriously stepped forward and tried to get in the mix for the 33-year-old, and Harden opted into the final year of his contract so he will be a free agent next summer (barring an extension for the team he plays for).

What are those demands for Harden other teams find unreasonable? Morey was interviewed on 97.5The Fanatic in Philly and said this:

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“James is a very good player. Right now, unfortunately, he does prefer to be somewhere else. I do have a long relationship with him, and I am attempting to honor that. If we do look at a trade, it will be for one of two things. Either a player who helps us be right there like we were last year. Up 3-2 on one of the best teams in the East, the Celtics. Obviously, we didn’t get it done, but James is one of the reasons we were up 3-2.  

“Or we are going to do it where we get enough draft picks so we can turn those into a player who can be a running mate with Joel. If we don’t get either a very good player or something we can turn into a very good player, then we will just not do it. If James were to turn his mind around, we would all be thrilled. But he prefers to be traded now, and we are attempting to honor that.”

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Joel Embiid remains the most crucial person in the entire Harden saga. Embiid is the reigning MVP and will turn 30 next season — his window will not be open that long and he wants to win. He would prefer to do that in Philadelphia — he is not close to asking for a trade — but if things fall apart after the Harden trade Embiid could feel differently a year from now (and the Knicks are out there, waiting). Morey knows he needs to nail this.

The problem is the market for Harden is not what it was a few years ago, and getting back a player who can keep the 76ers a contender seems a long shot. The Clippers have been offering players such as Nicolas Batum but have hesitated to put Terence Mann in a deal, and Mann will not keep the 76ers contenders. Maybe a three-team trade could bring back enough picks and players who could be flipped for another star, but who is that star? A three-team Damian Lillard trade works on paper, but league sources told NBC Sports during Summer League there was no traction with those talks (if they even seriously started).

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Morey is in a tough spot. We know what he wants in a Harden trade. Good luck getting it.

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