Philadelphia 76ers star James Harden’s quest to be traded kicked into high gear recently when he called Sixers President Daryl Morey a liar. The old adage “name-calling will only get you so far” might apply to Harden’s current situation with his team, who just shut down trade talks and plan to keep him even though he doesn’t want to be there.
The Sixers weren’t getting any good offers for their second-best player, so they rightfully took him off the trade block. However, the only reason Harden opted into his player option was with the understanding Morey would deal him to the Los Angeles Clippers.
If that is indeed the case, then Harden has a point. Not just that, but he reportedly agreed to take less money last summer with another understanding from Morey that he would be rewarded with a long-term max contract.
Somewhere along the way, Harden apparently realized that that wasn’t going to happen. He then appeared to use the threat of him opting out and signing with his former team, the Houston Rockets, in free agency if he didn’t get what he wanted. Morey called his bluff, and while he won that round, he risks developing a reputation.
A disgruntled James Harden may turn Embiid against the Sixers.
Morey has been seen as too analytical, focusing less on player relationships and more on advanced stats. He has been successful as a result, but his style isn’t for everyone, and he finally lost the confidence of Harden, with whom he has a decade-long professional relationship.
The longer the fallout lasts, and the more vocal Harden gets, the more he risks turning the Sixers’ other star, MVP Joel Embiid, against the team. Embiid even deleted a mention of the Sixers in his Twitter bio recently, suggesting that all isn’t well there.
Joel Embiid removed “Philadelphia” from his location 😬 pic.twitter.com/s7BDZeI6iq
— NBACentral (@TheDunkCentral) August 15, 2023
If Harden gets in Embiid’s ear about how Morey can’t be trusted, then that could have huge, negative ramifications for the Sixers, something that they can’t afford to risk.
Therein lies the problem: if the Sixers suddenly trade Harden to the Clippers, then they probably aren’t going to get as much as they were initially offered, which was below their asking price. If they don’t, then the Harden situation risks becoming a bigger distraction, with Embiid also wanting out, which would be a devastating blow to the franchise.
Ultimately, while Harden hasn’t handled the situation as well as he should have, it seems pretty clear that he was misled by Morey. Morey misleading his star might have been in the best interest of the Sixers since Harden isn’t a max player anymore. Despite that, it could come back to bite him and the Sixers if Embiid also turns against the team.