The NBA trade landscape is as active as ever. With the recent blockbuster trades of Jrue Holiday and Damian Lillard, the trade market is booming. Now, all eyes are on James Harden, who refused to attend the Philadelphia 76ers media day because of his demand to be traded. This could signal another potential blockbuster trade in the next few days. The Washington Wizards could get involved in such a deal.
The Los Angeles Clippers have been long linked to James Harden. All reporting indicates that there is mutual interest between Harden and the Clippers. It is the destination that makes the most sense for Harden, both in terms of on-court fit and financial feasibility for a trade construction.
One obstacle in front of that trade is the Sixers’ unwillingness to take on long-term salary. Philadelphia is prioritizing cap space for the 2024 offseason, so they have no interest in receiving additional salary in exchange for Harden. This limits them to expiring contracts and draft picks.
However, they also have the reigning MVP on their roster, so they need to be as competitive as possible. They can’t just trade Harden for future assets.
This is where the Wizards come in as the third team to help the Sixers and the Clippers get what they want. A potential trade machination could look like this:
The Sixers add Nicolas Batum, Terance Mann, and Delon Wright in exchange for Harden. These are three solid role players who could be in Philadelphia’s playoff rotation. They are also all on short and expiring contracts, meaning the Sixers will still maintain cap flexibility going forward.
The Clippers land Harden from Philadelphia and Mike Muscala from the Wizards in exchange for Terance Mann, Nicolas Batum, Marcus Morris Sr., and a 2028 first-rounder.
The Washington Wizards end up with a first-round pick with some upside in exchange for Delon Wright, Mike Muscala, and absorbing Marcus Morris’ hefty $17.1 million contract. They could buy Morris’ contract out or waive him if necessary. The main goal here for the Wizards is to add a future first-round pick and open more playing time for the young players by moving on from the veterans.
Regardless of the direction the Sixers choose to go with the Harden saga, it will be fascinating to watch. If the Washington Wizards find a way to get involved and get assets in return, all the better.