Another year, another trade request from James Harden. The veteran shooting guard picked up the $35.6 million player option for the final year of his contract with the Philadelphia 76ers, but only with the expectation that the two sides will work together on a trade, according to Shams Charania

Harden's preferred destination is the Los Angeles Clippers, per Sam Amick, and discussions are already underway. Perhaps the most important note from Amick's report, though, is that the Clippers' current two best players, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, are open to playing with Harden and would be in favor of the move. 

While that doesn't guarantee it will happen, we saw last season how influential George was in pushing the team to sign Russell Westbrook. With Leonard and George both looking at player options for 2024-25, and Harden set to be a free agent that summer, perhaps the Clippers would be willing to go all in with that trio for one season and figure out the future later. 

There are certainly a number of factors that make this a real possibility. First and foremost, the Clippers are Harden's first choice, and that matters a great deal in a league where teams usually acquiesce to star demands, and a situation where the Sixers have little leverage. 

Furthermore, as our Sam Quinn detailed, the Clippers have a number of mid-level salaries that would be easy to aggregate in a trade. Nic Batum, Robert Covington, Marcus Morris, Norman Powell and Ivica Zubac all make between $10-18M. They could also offer Terance Mann as an intriguing younger player. Whether sacrificing their depth for Harden is a good idea is certainly up for discussion, but logistically they could make the deal work.

On the court, the Clippers have been desperate for a point guard to take some of the playmaking responsibilities off of Leonard and George, which is one of the reasons they picked up Westbrook from the buyout market last season. Harden has always been a brilliant passer, and settled into more of a facilitator role last season with the Sixers, leading the league with 10.7 assists per game. He also fits the more methodical and deliberate pace the Clippers like to play at, especially in the halfcourt. 

It's unclear when this Harden situation may be settled; after all, we've seen in the past with the Ben Simmons saga that Morey is patient. But whenever Harden is moved, there's a good chance it will be to the Clippers.