The Unraveling of James Harden and the Philadelphia 76ers: Is a Trade Imminent?

Has one of the NBA’s biggest stars finished with his current team? With a telling gesture, James Harden further fueled the trade thriller surrounding his future: He skipped the Philadelphia 76ers’ media day and thereby signaled that he is further away from the franchise.

“I want to talk about James Harden,” said team president Daryl Morey, who was personally attacked by Harden, after initially talking about the “elephant in the room” for several minutes: “He’s not here. He continues to pursue a trade – and we are talking to his representatives to find the best solution for the 76ers. And hopefully for all parties too.”

Morey openly admitted that he didn’t know whether Harden would be at the team’s soon-to-begin training camp. The scenario of a strike that has been in the air for weeks – the means with which Harden once forced the move from the Houston Rockets to the Brooklyn Nets – is taking shape.

James Harden wants to go from the 76ers to the Clippers

Harden wants to go to the Los Angeles Clippers, according to ESPN there are talks, but no prospect of an agreement yet: The Clippers have set the price for taking over Harden’s contract “high”, the Clippers would play poker and wait for further developments on the player market .

A little more than three weeks before the start of the NBA season, the personnel is up in the air. And the 76ers continue to hope to convince the 2018 MVP that they can form a title-ready team around him and reigning MVP Joel Embiid.

Embiid was confident in this regard at media day and was unimpressed by the smash trades from the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics, who secured important pieces of the puzzle with Damian Lillard and Jrue Holiday, respectively.

“Who says they’ve passed us?” Embiid said: “To do that, they still have to compete with us on the court. You can do too many things besides that, but in the end the ball has to go into the basket.”

Last season, the 76ers fell to the Celtics in the conference semifinals. This was followed by the dismissal of coach Doc Rivers, and Nick Nurse, the former championship coach of the Toronto Raptors, took over.

A once good relationship has broken down

Harden – who moved to Philly in 2022 as part of the disintegration of the Brooklyn Nets superteam with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving – had already drawn a contract option in June and conveyed that he would have preferred to be shipped before the start of training camp. However, the 76ers repeatedly emphasized that they wanted to persuade Harden to stay – so far in vain. Harden’s relationship with his former confidant Morey appears personally broken.

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In August, Harden called Morey a “liar” and made the announcement that “I never want to be a part of an organization that he’s involved with.” It’s an ugly crack in a previously good relationship: Harden and Morey knew each other from their time together at the Houston Rockets, where Morey was general manager.

The league fined Harden $100,000 for the implied threat of breach of contract, but Harden is said to have qualified his words during the investigation into the case. Morey dismissed the accusation of lying and now said: “I haven’t answered that because I think this claim will take care of itself.” He has worked in the league for 20 years and “everyone” there knows that he has integrity .

Morey refrained from a counterattack – logically, given his negotiating goal – and instead ensnared Harden: “He’s an amazing player and I also like him as a person.”

Not appearing at Media Day is the next clear signal that no rapprochement has been achieved.

2023-10-03 17:34:19
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