James Harden is totally entrenched in one other interval of discontentment — solely this time, the getting old celebrity might not be coveted sufficient across the league to get what he needs. For the third time in somewhat extra three years, Harden has requested a commerce, this time to get away from the Philadelphia 76ers. He nonetheless hasn’t been moved a month and a half after he put in his request, and the Sixers leaked that they’re ending all Harden commerce talks over the weekend.
Harden issued his personal replace on his commerce request throughout a weekend tour in China with Adidas. He didn’t mince his phrases: “Daryl Morey is a liar and I’ll by no means be a part of a corporation that he’s a part of.” Watch the video right here:
James Harden: “Daryl Morey is a liar and I’ll by no means be part of a corporation that he’s part of. Let me say that once more: Daryl Morey is a liar and I’ll by no means be part of a corporation that he’s part of.” pic.twitter.com/AmHJ0WwbF2
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 14, 2023
Morey, Philadelphia’s high basketball decision-maker, as soon as traded for Harden a decade in the past in Houston to ignite his transformation right into a celebrity. When Morey left for the Sixers, his first massive transfer was buying and selling Ben Simmons to land Harden. After consecutive playoff flameouts, Harden needs out — specifically, he needs to be dealt to the Los Angeles Clippers — however doing so might interrupt Morey’s long-term team-building plans (extra on this in a minute).
The truth that this occurred in China, the place Morey as soon as created a world uproar, isn’t misplaced on anybody.
Hanging within the wind throughout all of this? Reigning MVP middle Joel Embiid. The 76ers celebrity turns 30 years previous, and has already made feedback this summer time he’s able to win a championship whether or not it’s in Philadelphia or elsewhere.
NBA coaching camps open on Sept. 27, and it seems like Harden vs. the Sixers might drag out method past then. Right here’s why each aspect is caught with an absence of leverage.
Harden might have been a free agent this summer time, however selected to opt-in
James Harden had a participant possibility for $35.64M for the 2023-24 season with the Sixers. Harden would have been a free agent if he turned down that possibility. As a substitute, he picked it up and advised the Sixers to commerce him.
Harden opted in for 2 causes:
- He didn’t see any group with each the cap house and the willingness to offer him the max contract he wishes in free company after the Houston Rockets dropped out of the operating following the hiring of latest head coach Ime Udoka.
- He hoped to be prolonged by this new membership along with his chook rights after being traded.
As Harden’s maintain out continues to pull on, it’s necessary to recollect it is a downside of his personal making.
Harden needs the Clippers, however the Clippers gained’t bid in opposition to themselves
Harden, an LA native, named the Clippers because the group he needs to play for when he put in his commerce request. Morey, because the Sixers’ lead decision-maker, mentioned he’d solely commerce Harden for a star-level return. The Clippers reportedly kicked the tires on Harden, however weren’t going to supply each accessible asset to get the deal achieved with no obvious outdoors market.
Once more: Harden might have signed with the Clippers this offseason on a a lot, a lot smaller contract if he actually needed to. As a substitute, he determined to get his cash (good transfer!) and trigger havoc once more. Sadly for the star guard, the Sixers’ obvious massive plan includes Harden’s cash coming off the books utterly.
The 76ers need to open two max slots in free company subsequent summer time
The Sixers are feeling stress from their aspect, too. Embiid is likely one of the easiest gamers within the league, however his supporting forged hasn’t been ok in Philadelphia to get the group previous the second around the playoffs (Embiid deserves some blame there, too).
Morey’s massive plan to avoid wasting the Embiid period is to attempt to signal two max-ish gamers in free company in 2024 when Harden and Tobias Harris each have their contracts expire. Gamers who might change into free brokers subsequent yr embrace Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Pascal Siakam, Jrue Vacation, and DeMar DeRozan. Philly is somewhat wanting opening up two max slots, however the thought from Morey is that veteran stars will line as much as play with Embiid and chase a championship.
Philadelphia’s 2024 plan solely works in the event that they don’t take again any long-term cash in a Harden commerce. Now we have ourselves a stalemate.
Harden’s leverage is Embiid standing
Harden is reportedly decided to carry out of coaching camp if the Sixers don’t commerce him. Harden’s angle is apparent: if he’s not taking part in, the Sixers gained’t be a championship contender, and Embiid might get upset on the group for losing one in every of his prime seasons.
Embiid has been by way of this earlier than, again when Simmons was holding out and the group hung onto him till they might land Harden in a commerce. Does Embiid actually need to play massive minutes each night time on a group that isn’t ok to compete for a championship whereas Harden sits out and not using a commerce? The nightmare scenario for the Sixers is Embiid asking for a commerce. We’re not there but, but it surely isn’t exhausting to think about how the scenario lands there ultimately.
The Sixers’ leverage is Harden’s incomes potential
Harden turns 34 years previous earlier than the beginning of the season. He fancies himself as a max participant, however it seems that the league now not values him as such.
If Harden needs to signal the largest contract attainable in 2024, he must have an ideal season. He can’t have an ideal season if he holds out, or tanks his personal play like he as soon as perhaps did in Houston.
Harden took a pay reduce final yr to assist the Sixers, and nonetheless didn’t get the contract he needed
Harden did the Sixers a large favor final yr by taking a $15 million pay reduce so the group might add position gamers P.J. Tucker and Danuel Home to enhance their championship possibilities. The thought was that the Sixers would reward Harden for his sacrifice a yr later by giving him a profitable long-term deal. Whether or not or not that was really promised is one thing the general public won’t ever know, however clearly it was Harden’s intention.
The Sixers didn’t win the championship, as a substitute being eradicated within the second spherical once more. Harden had two good playoff video games within the sequence in opposition to the Boston Celtics, but in addition put up a couple of of his signature postseason stinkers. The Sixers determined giving Harden a long-term contract wasn’t their finest path to a championship. Harden responded with a commerce request.
There’s a lot stress for each the Sixers and Harden to get what they need
Harden needs the largest contract attainable on his subsequent deal after leaving cash on the desk final yr. He additionally needs to win a championship, however apparently not a lot that he’ll return to play with Embiid.
The Sixers need to assist Embiid win a championship. They notice Harden’s finest years are behind him. The group believes their finest path ahead is signing massive title free brokers with cap house a yr from now, so they should hold their books open.
Philly needs Harden to return and play out this season in hopes of yet another title run. Harden is disgusted by the group for refusing to offer him a long-term contract after taking a pay reduce final yr. Neither aspect is giving in and not using a combat.
Anticipate Harden vs. the Sixers to pull on for months. That is going to get uglier earlier than it reaches a decision.