James Harden publicly criticized Philadelphia 76ers GM Daryl Morey, labeling him a “liar” during an event in China. It seems this stemmed from Harden’s trade request earlier this offseason.
According to Shams Charania, Harden informed the NBA that his comments referred to Morey’s alleged promise of a swift trade after Harden exercised his $35.6 million player option for the next season.
Despite this, the 76ers have ceased trade discussions involving Harden and plan to retain him for the upcoming season.
Morey had stated that he’d trade Harden only for a quality player or valuable assets to acquire one. However, no suitable offers have emerged, and talks with the Los Angeles Clippers, Harden’s favored destination, have stalled.
Harden, approaching 34, has sought three trades since 2020 and is coming off another playoff letdown. His fitness and defense have been questioned. As of now, his trade value seems restricted.
The NBA’s investigation mainly focused on whether any salary cap circumvention was involved in the Harden situation.
Last offseason, Harden opted for a one-year deal with a $35.6 million player option, intending to provide the 76ers flexibility for roster improvements. While there have been rumors of a potential long-term contract this offseason, there’s no credible reporting suggesting any illicit agreement regarding future contracts with Harden.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne reported that Harden intends to attend Philadelphia’s training camp in September.
Notably, Harden hasn’t previously held out during trade negotiations, but he’s exhibited subpar performance while awaiting a deal, as seen when he joined the Houston Rockets’ training camp late and out of shape for the 2020-21 season.
His final game with the Brooklyn Nets also ended with a lackluster four points in a loss to the Sacramento Kings.
Harden’s future in Philadelphia remains uncertain, with Daryl Morey’s history suggesting he won’t make a hasty trade solely to offload Harden.
Morey held on to Ben Simmons amid his dissatisfaction for much of the 2021-22 season, waiting for the right trade opportunity. The eventual trade with Brooklyn that brought Harden took time to materialize. Despite Harden’s claim of a swift deal, it seems the situation is on hold unless circumstances change.