Both remain on the roster but that could be as much about not receiving a satisfactory offer as anything else. They could just need a team desperate enough to make that offer and the Philadelphia 76ers could be that team as their standoff with James Harden threatens to linger into training camp and even the season.
“They can still move their 2029 pick. They can still do a bunch of pick swaps. I would be trying to do that,” said The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie on the “Game Theory” podcast on August 25. “Honestly, I would do James Harden and a first probably for DeMar DeRozan.”
– James Harden
– 2029 First-round pick
– DeMar DeRozan
Harden averaged 21.0 points and led the league with 10.7 assists per game adding 6.1 rebounds and 1.2 steals for good measure
He also snapped his streak of All-Star appearances at 10, though.
Harden has had a highly decorated career but he has also made a habit of becoming discontented with his situation despite forcing his way into the last two. That includes his current battle with Sixers president Daryl Morey over what Harden says was an unfulfilled promise regarding a swift resolution to his trade demands.
He opted into the final year of his two-year, $68 million contract after his expectations for a max contract – four years, $120 million – were not met. But, when he did not get traded as he wanted, Harden spoke out against Morey leading to an investigation by the NBA.
“That’s the kind of deal I’d be trying to do if I was Daryl Morey,” Vecenie said. “I don’t know if Chicago has any interest in that. They probably don’t.”
James Harden’s Talent Not in Question
Harden is a 10-time All-Star, seven-time All-NBA selection, three-time scoring champ, two-time assists leader, a former MVP, and much more. But he has not been reliable over the last few years.
After making no fewer than 72 appearances in all but one of his first eight seasons, Harden has not surpassed 68 appearances in any season since 2018-19.
And it has not gone well when he has become disenchanted in the past.
“There may be a team that goes for him at some point,” one Eastern Conference executive said, per senior NBA columnist Steve Bulpett of Heavy Sports on August 24. “But he costs you a lot of money, and he can obviously be a major headache when he’s not happy. … And if you’re looking to build a team to win everything, you have to have questions.”
The exec went on to note Harden’s postseason shortcomings and lackluster defense as the “bottom line” reason teams should prefer facing him in the postseason rather than being the ones to roster him.
DeMar DeRozan’s Track Record Speaks for Itself
DeRozan is entering the final year of his three-year, $81.9 million contract. Although there have been no known talks to this point, Bulls general manager Marc Eversley said he is hoping to keep DeRozan in Chicago, and DeRozan has touted the fact that he has never been one to demand a trade of cause that kind of disturbance.
“I mean, 14 years in my career, I’ve never talked about a trade, asked for a trade, anything.” DeRozan said, per Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times in December 2022. “So when I see something like that [story], I try to make fun of it more than anything.’’
He is also a mentor for the team’s younger players.
Harden is said to be liked well enough in the locker room. But his brand of leadership lacks the same consistency as DeRozan’s, something the continuity-conscious Bulls surely value.