How the break between Harden and the Philadelphia 76ers came about
And so Harden, who no longer showed up for training in Houston and thus went on strike, forced his move to the Brooklyn Nets at the beginning of 2021. There he wanted to get his first ring together with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. But that line-up didn’t work out, so the 34-year-old moved on to Philadelphia in February 2022. General manager Daryl Morey, with whom the shooting guard had already worked successfully in Houston, wanted his protégé at all costs. Morey wanted to build a team around Harden and Joel Embiid that would win the NBA title.
But nothing came of it, both in 2022 and last summer it was over in the conference semifinals. And with this duo it will almost certainly not go on in Philly, because the tablecloth between Harden and the club, more precisely Morey, is completely cut up. But how did this come about?
It all started in the summer of 2022, when the Bart had extended for two years in Philadelphia, but waived 14 million euros so that the team can get better. Something new for Harden, as he had always signed or been offered maximum contracts with his class. He was therefore no longer a “Max Guy” in the league, which was not necessarily good for the reputation of the top player.
Harden, too, saw that his standing was no longer the same as it was during his time in Houston. An example? The 34-year-old has been voted an All-Star ten times in a row, but not again last season. The numbers of “The Beard” were good, but the success of the team did not fit. In the summer, after a disappointing game seven against Boston, it was again over in the conference semifinals.
Rivers must go – clear the way for Harden?
After the heavy defeats in game seven and also before game six, where Philly had the entry into the next round in his own hands, it seemed clear that Harden would no longer play under Doc Rivers. “The only way James Harden will come back was if Doc Rivers is no longer going to be a coach,” ESPN insider Ramona Shelburne said on the ESPN podcast. The club eventually reacted to the failure and parted ways with the head coach. So the way was clear for Harden to remain in Philadelphia.
But things turned out differently. At the end of June, Harden had pulled a contract option that binds him to the Sixers for another season until 2024 for an annual salary of $35.6 million. However, this was done under the premise of being traded by Philadelphia afterwards – the reason for this trade request was apparently the failed negotiations for a maximum contract that Harden wanted. Morey did not offer him this. There was an ice age, talks did not take place.
Harden’s change also burst, as there is probably no market at the moment. The Clippers were the favorite of the beard, but a trade did not materialize, which further increased the dissatisfaction of the three-man specialist.
Harden calls Morey a “liar”
In mid-August, there was a final break in the strained relationship between Harden and Morey. “Daryl Morey is a liar and I will never be part of an organization he belongs to,” Harden said during a promotional tour in China. Not much has happened since then.
So, of course, the Media Day in Philadelphia on Monday is eagerly awaited. One day later, the training camp starts. It would be very unlikely that Harden would show up there. It all points to the next strike of the superstar …