James Harden stunned the basketball world last week when he called Philadelphia 76ers general manager and longtime friend Daryl Morey a ‘liar’ at an event in China.
Speaking to reporters and kids at the event, Harden clarified that he would never work for Morey again.
James Harden on his China tour: “Daryl Morey is a liar and I will never be a part of an organization that he’s a part of. Let me say that again. Daryl Morey is a liar and I will never be a part of an organization that he’s a part of.” 😳 pic.twitter.com/oaqVjXkax6
— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) August 14, 2023
“Daryl Morey is a liar and I will never be a part of an organization that he’s a part of. Let me say that again. Daryl Morey is a liar and I will never be a part of an organization that he’s a part of.”
The problem, however, is that Harden remains under contract with the 76ers.
The former NBA MVP opted into the final year of his two-year deal with Philadelphia last month. That came after reports that the Sixers were reluctant to give him a lucrative long-term contract.
Harden reportedly opted in with the intent to force a trade. More specifically, he reportedly wanted a trade to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Philadelphia spoke with the Clippers as well as other organizations, but recently shut down trade talks for the All-Star point guard.
This left Harden feeling disgruntled and, ultimately, led to the ‘liar’ comment.
Many around the league speculated that Harden had a handshake deal with Morey and the Sixers that they would give him a max contract after he took a pay cut a year ago.
But Harden now says that’s not the case.
After the NBA launched an investigation into the situation, Harden reportedly told the league his comment was about Morey promising to trade him “quickly,” according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
As part of NBA probe into his “liar” comment, James Harden told league investigators he was referring to Daryl Morey telling Harden he will trade him “quickly” following the $35.6 million opt in for 2023-24, per sources. The 76ers’ stance now is they expect to keep Harden.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 21, 2023
That all changed when the Sixers were unable to find a suitable return for the star. The two sides now appear at an impasse. Philadelphia will not trade Harden at a loss. And Harden reportedly intends to hold out until he is traded.
However, a rule in the current NBA collective bargaining agreement states that Harden could risk not being able to enter free agency next summer if he does not honor is contract.
So somebody, somewhere has a difficult decision to make.