Following reports that trade discussions involving James Harden and the Philadelphia 76ers had been terminated, the esteemed 10-time All-Star guard, Harden, expressed his dissatisfaction with 76ers President Daryl Morey.
Speaking at an Adidas media event in China, Harden declared, “I find it necessary to point out that Daryl Morey has been less than truthful in his dealings, which prompts me to unequivocally distance myself from any organization that bears his involvement.” Harden reiterated, “To reiterate, I firmly assert that Daryl Morey has been dishonest, and I shall have no association with any entity connected to him.”
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Over the weekend, inside sources shared with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that the 76ers had made plans to reintegrate Harden into their training camp and launch the upcoming season with his participation, which could potentially lead to an awkward situation due to Harden’s discontent.
Throughout the offseason, intermittent dialogues took place between the 76ers and the LA Clippers, the preferred destination for Harden, although these discussions failed to gain momentum, according to reliable sources.
The 76ers initially engaged in trade deliberations at the behest of Harden, subsequent to his decision to activate his $35.6 million player option in June. Regrettably, the 76ers’ requested terms for the trade were ambitious, and no teams, including the Clippers, demonstrated a willingness or capability to fulfill these terms, as confirmed by insiders.
Harden’s dissatisfaction with Morey stems primarily from the absence of a substantial, long-term maximum-level contract proposal, as indicated by sources. The team now faces the prospect of Harden’s presence at the training camp undermining their pursuit of a championship-oriented mindset. Notably, Morey had occupied the position of General Manager for the Houston Rockets during Harden’s tenure spanning over eight seasons.
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The Philadelphia organization remains optimistic about their championship prospects with Harden’s reintegration alongside MVP-caliber center Joel Embiid. The team is committed to devising a strategy for successfully accommodating Harden’s presence during the upcoming season, sources revealed.
Harden, the recipient of the NBA MVP accolade in 2018, has now endeavored to secure a trade for the third time in as many years. His ascent to stardom occurred under the Houston Rockets, where Morey held a prominent role until Harden’s trade request to the Brooklyn Nets was fulfilled. Although Harden anticipated a triumphant collaboration with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, a championship victory failed to materialize, prompting his desire for a trade to the 76ers. This desire was significantly influenced by his strong professional and personal rapport with Morey.
Harden showcased his versatility this season by leading the league in assists; however, his role took a backseat to Embiid’s prominence as a primary scorer. Presently, it appears that the prospect of assuming a secondary role behind Embiid, with aspirations of clinching a championship in Philadelphia, is no longer under serious consideration.
The 76ers’ postseason journey concluded prematurely in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. They now find themselves in a transitional phase under the guidance of new coach Nick Nurse.
Harden’s on-court performance was marked by a standout 45-point contribution in Game 1 and a follow-up 42-point performance in Game 4, both victories against the Celtics. In contrast, he struggled in losses during Games 2 and 6, failing to convert any of his six three-point attempts. His participation in Game 7 yielded just nine points, and he remained scoreless throughout the second half.
The 76ers have previously navigated through a similar situation when former No. 1 draft pick Ben Simmons demanded a trade following a deterioration in his relationship with former coach Doc Rivers and other members of the organization. This resulted in Simmons causing disruption during the 2021 training camp and ultimately led to his departure from the team. The eventual trade involved Harden becoming a part of the 76ers’ roster.