It’s safe to say James Harden and Daryl Morey’s relationship is not what it once was.
Speaking at a recent event during his tour of China, Harden said the Sixers’ president of basketball operations “is and a liar and I will never be part of an organization that he’s a part of.”
He then repeated the line for emphasis, as the video below from The Athletic’s Shams Charania shows:
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That video hit social media a little over a day after ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Sixers have ended trade talks involving Harden.
The 10-time All-Star guard picked up his $35.6 million player option in late June and wants to become a Clipper, but Morey is habitually disinclined to settle in trade discussions. And though Harden has clearly been quite firm in his stance, the Sixers have figured that various factors — wanting to play in his age-34 season and show he’s still a great and valuable player, support from teammates like reigning MVP Joel Embiid, etc. — could lead to Harden eventually appearing at training camp and suiting up for them again.
A team source told NBC Sports Philadelphia that, while the Sixers honored Harden's request to explore a trade with the Clippers, they never got close to a deal. The Sixers don't feel a Harden trade would make sense unless it supports the organization's priority of maximizing its championship odds, a source said.
Last June, Morey was asked about Harden’s contractual situation and said, “It’s a mutual love fest, so we feel like we’ll work it out.”
Harden ultimately declined his player option of $47.4 million for the 2022-23 season, instead signing a new contract that paid him $33 million in Year 1. That deal allowed the Sixers to sign PJ Tucker with the mid-level exception and Danuel House Jr. with the bi-annual exception. Sixers sources told NBC Sports Philadelphia that the team never had any agreements with Harden on a future contract.
This time around, as Morey told 97.5 The Fanatic’s Anthony Gargano last month, Harden “was wishing for a different situation contractually.”
Almost 11 years after Morey first traded for Harden, it’s not a “mutual love fest.”