James Harden refuses to let his beef with Philadelphia 76ers GM Daryl Morey go.
As Yahoo reported, when asked if his fractured relationship with Morey could be repaired, Harden tersely responded, “No. My whole thing was I wanted to retire a Sixer and the front office didn’t have that in their future plans.”
Harden continued, “It’s literally out of my control. It’s something I didn’t want to happen…But I’ve got to make a decision for my family. I understand this is a business. It’s just as simple as that. If I’m here today, I’ll work my butt off and do the things necessary as a professional as I’ve been doing for 15 years.”
As BLACK ENTERPRISE previously reported, Harden picked up his $35.6 million player option expecting to be traded, but that never happened. While the star was promoting the NBA at an event in China, he called Morey a liar and made comments for which the NBA levied a $100,000 fine against Harden for what the league deemed “indicating that he would not perform the services called for under his player contract unless traded to another team.”
Harden likened his deteriorating relationship with Morey to a bad marriage, saying “This is not even about in this situation, this is in life,” Harden said. “When you lose trust in someone, it’s like a marriage. You lose trust in someone, you know what I mean? It’s pretty simple.”
According to NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski, Morey wants to get assets in return for Harden that would allow the 76ers to flip for an All-Star caliber guard to replace Harden with, but according to USA Today, that asking price might be divorced from the reality of Harden’s worth. The Clippers, Harden’s preferred trade destination, are currently unwilling to part with either star players or young assets. This means that a trade to LA is extremely unlikely in the short term, and Wojnarowski expects that a deal for Harden will not be an easy one to make, inferring that teams generally do not want to trade for an expiring contract like Harden’s.
“This is not an easy trade to make with essentially trading for an expiring contract in James Harden. I think it’s another situation that’s going to play out through free agency, into summer league, and probably beyond.”
As we have entered the NBA preseason, a deal for Harden that reflects what Morey wants is unlikely, as the Clippers have expressed to the 76ers front office that they are only interested in Harden at the cost of one first round pick, pick swaps, or expiring contracts. So, the Clippers, according to Woj, are looking for a trade partner: “What the Clippers are trying to do right now is say to Daryl Morey, ‘Ok, you don’t believe that our 2028 unprotected first has enough value,’ they are going around to other teams and seeing if that ’28 pick and/or a pick swap gets them multiple picks,” Wojnarowski explained.
He added, “If you are a team that’s interested in this conversation, teams that have a lot of picks and say, ‘Ok, we’ll give two protected picks for that chance in 2028 where we think you might be really bad where you age out with these stars and you don’t have young players.’”
Sixers head coach Nick Nurse has noted that Harden, true to his word, has been a professional in his practice sessions with the team. Nurse told Yahoo, “It’s been exactly the same,” he said. “He’s been really good in practice. I know he’s working extremely hard almost every night, like the workouts at night are really intense as well. And we’re just going day-by-day.”
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