Two days after it was reported that the Philadelphia 76ers ended trade talks involving James Harden, the 10-time All-Star guard ripped 76ers president Daryl Morey.
“Daryl Morey is a liar and I will never be a part of an organization that he’s a part of,” Harden said during an Adidas media event in China. “Let me say that again: Daryl Morey is a liar and I will never be a part of an organization that he’s a part of.”
On Saturday, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that the 76ers planned to bring Harden back to training camp and for the start of the season, setting up an uncomfortable situation with the unhappy star.
The Sixers had periodic offseason conversations with the LA Clippers — Harden’s desired destination — but no traction on a deal materialized, sources said.
Harden, of course, plays basketball better than just about anyone else on the planet. His frustration with Daryl Morey, president of the Philadelphia 76ers, stems from his desire to be traded, preferably to the Clippers. But talks between the teams cooled and Morey expects Harden at training camp, where he’s a threat to be more disruptive than the Allstate Insurance Mayhem Guy.
A month ago, the deal appeared on track. Harden agreed to pick up his $36-million player option for this season, anticipating he’d join Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in L.A., giving the Clippers a third superstar, the missing piece in claiming their first NBA title in either their last season playing at Crypto.com Arena or first season in their new Inglewood crib.
This is what we know: In the summer of 2022, Harden declined to pick up his $47.4 million player option for ’22–23. He ended up making $33 million instead. He also got a player option worth $35.6 million for the ’23–24 season, but that was an undeniable pay cut. He said publicly he did it to give the Sixers financial flexibility to improve their team.
Then, this summer, Harden picked up that $35.6 million option—and simultaneously requested a trade. It has been widely reported he was upset the Sixers did not offer him the kind of larger, longer extension he wants.
If Harden is upset only because he thinks he deserves that extension, then he is entitled to feel that way. But that wouldn’t make Morey a liar.
The 76ers have been down this road before when former No. 1 pick Ben Simmons demanded a trade after his relationship soured with former coach Doc Rivers and others in the organization. Simmons caused a disruption in training camp in 2021, never played for the Sixers that season and was eventually traded — for Harde
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