Five reasons to dislike the Harden-Clippers deal. Plus, In-Season Tourney courts must go.

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Let’s start today with big news from Shams. Analysis to follow.

The Latest From Shams

Philadelphia 76ers, LA Clippers finally strike a deal

Big news out of the NBA overnight: The James Harden era is over in Philadelphia.

The 76ers are trading Harden and P.J. Tucker to the LA Clippers in exchange for Robert Covington, Nicolas Batum, Marcus Morris Sr. and KJ Martin, league sources tell me. There’s also draft compensation heading the 76ers’ way as the months-long saga that began when Harden opted into his contract in hopes of working out a trade finally ends.

One player not involved in the deal is Terance Mann, whom the 76ers eyed for months as part of any potential Harden deal.

Plenty more on the blockbuster trade below and at The Athletic. For now, let’s check out Zach’s thoughts on the transaction.

Five reasons I’m out on the Harden-Clippers pairing

In the trade grades for this deal, I couldn’t believe we’ve waited for this.

I don’t like this deal — that’s why neither team got an A — although, I do think the Clippers have grown their potential to become better. The possibility exists, right? Here are five reasons I’m not totally sold on this.

  1. Harden isn’t sure to stay: This is his fourth team in almost three years. If the Clippers decide not to give him big money or he just decides he doesn’t like this group of stars, what stops him from wanting to leave again? He is a free agent after this season.
  2. I like what Westbrook is doing in LA: The Russ Revival is real! And Westbrook found ways to just fit in (shooting 71 percent from less than five feet from the basket). That won’t be the case much more, with Harden needing the ball in his hands. I was enjoying Westbrook being more of himself on the Clippers.
  3. Harden doesn’t help their postseason struggles: The Clippers always find a spectacular way to flame out in the postseason. That’s Harden’s specialty. I don’t think two negatives will yield a positive.
  4. The Sixers didn’t improve: How does Daryl Morey do this deal without getting Norman Powell or Mann, if not both? I can’t say Morey is a liar like Harden did, but he could be washed.
  5. I wanted more awkwardness: I was promised chaos but didn’t truly get it. The best we got was someone dressed as Michael Myers staring Harden down with a sign. Boring.

The Clippers play Philadelphia twice at the end of March. We must wait until then for the Philly boos.

Adjourn These In-Season Tournament Court

They are here … and awful

Remember, entering the final game of the movie “Semi-Pro,” when Jackie Moon tries drumming up interest to pack the arena? Moon starts calling it the “Flint, Michigan Mega Bowl,” and just repeats it over and over without ever truly defining why people should care about it?

I’m getting these vibes from Adam Silver and the NBA’s In-Season Tournament debuting in November. I’ll keep an open mind about the tournament because more interest injected into the first half of the regular season should be good. But the NBA has gotten a little gimmicky with drumming up said interest. 

The latest was the league unveiling each team’s In-Season Tournament court designs. My goodness, they’re mostly hideous. Let’s just start off with what will be the toughest one to watch on television. This is the Los Angeles Lakers’ court for the Group Play and quarterfinals (should they make it):

Lakers InSeason

I’m not a television producer, but the color correction needed to not burn out eyeballs watching on 4K TVs will need its own production team.

These courts are what you’d design in a video game, when you want to make it as visually confusing as possible. Look at the Charlotte Hornets’ design:

Hornets InSeason

The Hive Is Alive, but the rods and cones inside my eyeballs are dying.

Knicks InSeason

Before watching the New York Knicks in the In-Season Tournament, do remember the basketball is also orange. 

And, if you’ve wondered how the Pelicans’ court would look if they were purchased by The Joker and moved to Gotham City, here’s their court:

Pelicans InSeason

“You wanna know how I got this NBA Cup trophy?”

The NBA’s new In-Season Tournament begins on November 3.

Empty Poole

What is Jordan Poole doing?

Recently, Jordan Poole stated his legacy is forever intact because he won a ring with the Golden State Warriors. He also said he can just play free and easy now. And he might be correct when it’s said and done. Maybe? When he said this,  I thought, “he’s definitely going to put up crazy shot-attempt numbers and go for the scoring title now.”

Even if it didn’t result in good basketball, the potential for fun basketball was high. Instead, apparently Poole saying he can play freely and without pressure means very little is driving him right now. 

This play from Monday night’s blowout loss to the Boston Celtics perfectly embodies Poole’s experience in Washington so far. Watch how he treats this transition matchup with Kristaps Porziņģis. 

It’s like Poole is starring in one of those videos where a high school teacher is playing students before people find out he played D3 ball, as he destroys helpless teenagers. Porziņģis swats the 3-pointer before the Celtics go on to destroy the Wizards, who lost 126-107.

Through three pressure-free games, Poole has scored 56 points on 52 shots, shot 38.5 percent overall, just 21.7 percent from deep and has 12 turnovers to nine assists. This is not the Poole Party we expected.

More from Monday: 

  • The Wolves led the Hawks by 21 before losing by 14, 127-113.
  • Ben Simmons recorded 11 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in a 133-121 Nets win over Charlotte.
  • Steph Curry had 42 on the Pelicans, capping a 130-102 win.
  • Nikola Jokić’s 107th triple-double ties him for fourth all time.
  • The Grizzlies are now 0-4 for the first time since 2004-05.

Bounce Passes

Sam Amick on De’Aaron Fox’s ankle injury testing player participation.

Potential 2025 No. 1 pick Cooper Flagg has committed to Duke.

Chet Holmgren is impressive, but Jokić’ wants him to get fatter.

Screen Game (All times Eastern)

  • Main Screen: Spurs–Suns (10 p.m. TNT). Victor Wembanyama versus Kevin Durant. What else do you need?
  • Second Screen: Knicks-Cavs (7:30 p.m. TNT). Rematch of the playoffs between two teams in need of an early win here.
  • League Pass Game of the Night: Magic-Clippers (10:30 p.m.). It’s also the only game on League Pass tonight, but still.
  • Check the full schedule here.

(Top photo: Tim Nwachukwu / Getty Images)

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