James Harden requested a trade from the Philadelphia 76ers at the start of the offseason after failing to get a long-term contract extension from the team. Harden told the Sixers he wanted to be traded to the Los Angeles Clippers, but after months of postering, Philadelphia lead executive Daryl Morey eventually leaked that he wouldn’t trade his veteran guard. This led to Harden telling a group of kids in China “Daryl Morey is a liar and I will never be a part of an organization that he’s a part of.”
As NBA training camps open around the league this week, Harden remains stuck on the Sixers, and he’s still doing everything he can to get to a new team.
Harden is not in attendance for 76ers media day on Monday. With the 76ers leaving for Colorado later in the day to start training camp on the road, Harden is making it clear he won’t be part of team activities.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) October 2, 2023
Harden is opening himself up to being fined by skipping media day. He is under contract with the 76ers for one-year, $35.6 million. He’s slated to become a free agent in the summer.
Morey said he expects Harden to be in Colorado for training camp:
Daryl Morey said that despite James Harden not being here today, he expects Harden to report to camp in Colorado.
— Paul Hudrick (@PaulHudrick) October 2, 2023
Morey confirmed that Harden is still seeking a trade, and said he’s working to resolve it.
Daryl Morey on James Harden, who is absent from Sixers Media Day: “He continues to seek a trade, and we’re working with his representation to resolve that in the best way for the 76ers and for all parties.”
— Chris Mannix (@SIChrisMannix) October 2, 2023
Harden put himself in this situation. He had a player option this summer and could have become an unrestricted free agent. Harden obviously didn’t see the ability to land a similarly lucrative deal from another team, and decided to opt in and out ask. Even worse, Harden passed on a huge extension when he was with the Nets that would have kept him as one of the league’s highest paid players.
The Sixers and Clippers have talked recently, but aren’t close to a trade, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The Sixers want one more playoff run with Harden. Harden says he’s done with the organization altogether. Philadelphia’s position in the Eastern Conference got much stickier over the last week as Damian Lillard was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks, and Jrue Holiday was subsequently dealt to the Boston Celtics.
The stakes for both Harden and the Sixers are huge. Harden will be 35 years old next offseason. Who is giving him a huge contract if he sits out and causes chaos all season? Meanwhile, Philly can’t waste another year of Joel Embiid’s prime, or they risk him being the next superstar to ask out. The fact that Harden’s trade demand comes only two years after Ben Simmons pulled the same card only adds to the dysfunction around the franchise.
The Sixers might be screwed. The days of Harden being a big money NBA superstar might be over. It certainly looks like there are no winners in this trade demand, but Harden is still resolved to make it ugly on his way out.