The NBA is currently conducting an investigation into the recent actions of Philadelphia 76ers star James Harden. Sources have revealed that the league office is looking into whether Harden’s public criticism of the team’s president of basketball operations, Daryl Morey, could potentially be a violation of the league’s collective bargaining agreement. It is important for the NBA to understand the circumstances surrounding this incident in order to maintain fairness and adherence to the rules.
During an event in China to promote his line of Adidas basketball shoes, Harden referred to Morey as a “liar” and expressed his unwillingness to be associated with any organization Morey is a part of. It is worth noting that Harden’s comments were prompted by Morey’s decision to end trade discussions with the expectation that Harden would remain with the Sixers for the upcoming season. Harden privately conveyed that his intention was merely to respond to the trade situation and not to make definitive statements about the organization as a whole.
Harden had expected Morey to facilitate a trade to his preferred destination, the LA Clippers, after exercising his option for the 2023-24 season. However, the Sixers were unable to reach a suitable trade agreement with the Clippers, leading to the breakdown of negotiations. Although there have been speculations of a prior agreement between Harden and the Sixers regarding a future contract, no allegations or evidence of such an agreement have been presented.
Daryl Morey, known for his role in previously trading for Harden, is now faced with a challenging situation. On one hand, he must consider Harden’s demand and potentially facilitate a trade, while on the other hand, he must weigh the impact of such a trade on the team’s chances of contention, particularly with MVP center Joel Embiid in the lineup. Morey wants to maintain a championship-driven environment, which may be jeopardized by an unhappy Harden. It is indeed a complex decision for the president of basketball operations.
In 2021, Harden signed a two-year, $68.6 million deal with the Sixers that included a player option. This contract allowed the franchise to sign additional veteran players in free agency. The NBA conducted an investigation into the Sixers’ dealings with free agent signees P.J. Tucker and Danuel House, resulting in the loss of future second-round picks. However, no evidence was found regarding an illicit future deal between Harden and the organization.
Harden, a 10-time All-Star and former MVP, was traded from the Houston Rockets to the Brooklyn Nets in 2021 after requesting a trade. His time with the Nets did not culminate in the expected championship run alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. In February 2022, Harden pushed for a trade to the 76ers due to his strong connection with Morey. When asked about the state of his relationship with the Sixers, Harden expressed uncertainty but emphasized his focus on preparing for the upcoming season.
The 76ers have previously dealt with a similar situation when former No. 1 pick Ben Simmons demanded a trade following conflicts with former coach Doc Rivers and members of the organization. Simmons’ actions disrupted the team during the 2021 preseason camp, ultimately resulting in his trade to the Nets for Harden. This precedent underscores the challenges faced by the Sixers in managing player demands and maintaining team harmony.
The NBA’s inquiry into James Harden’s public admonishment of Daryl Morey highlights the need for a thorough understanding of the circumstances and adherence to league rules. Both the league office and the parties involved must ensure fairness and transparency in order to reach a resolution that upholds the integrity of the game. As the investigation unfolds, it remains to be seen how this situation will impact the future of Harden, Morey, and the Philadelphia 76ers organization.