Why would the Clippers want to acquire a player whose latest assessment of his current team’s president is to blurt out liar, liar, pants on fire?
Kindergarten is starting up all over the country, filling classrooms with innumerable 5-year-olds who exhibit more maturity than James Harden.
Harden, of course, plays basketball better than just about anyone else on the planet. His frustration with Daryl Morey, president of the Philadelphia 76ers, stems from his desire to be traded, preferably to the Clippers. But talks between the teams cooled and Morey expects Harden at training camp, where he’s a threat to be more disruptive than the Allstate Insurance Mayhem Guy.
A month ago, the deal appeared on track. Harden agreed to pick up his $36-million player option for this season, anticipating he’d join Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in L.A., giving the Clippers a third superstar, the missing piece in claiming their first NBA title in either their last season playing at Crypto.com Arena or first season in their new Inglewood crib.
Times columnist Bill Plaschke wrote that the Clippers needed Harden despite the risks: “Harden is selfish, erratic, eccentric, a complete and constant pain in the shorts. But he also has the court vision that can direct this franchise toward the 2024 opening of the new Inglewood arena. He has the hands that can roll out the red carpet. He has the buzz that can turn on the lights.”
Alas, trade talks fizzled when the Clippers believed Morey’s asking price was too high. The 76ers shifted gears over the weekend, deciding to bring Harden to training camp in the hope he’d be motivated by securing a max contract as a free agent after the season.
Morey was the general manager of the Houston Rockets for the eight-plus seasons Harden played there. They once were close. Yet Harden on Monday announced a separation due to irreconcilable differences. Morey said on a radio show July 18 that Harden “does prefer to be somewhere else. I do have a long relationship with him, and I am attempting to honor that.”
Harden interpreted this weekend’s about-face as a bald-faced lie.
“Daryl Morey is a liar and I will never be a part of an organization that he’s a part of,” Harden said Monday during an Adidas event in China. “Let me say that again: Daryl Morey is a liar and I will never be a part of an organization that he’s a part of.”
Except that, for now, he is part of an organization Morey leads. He’s expected to show up for training camp shortly. Expect fireworks if he does.
Harden successfully pushed to be traded by the Rockets to the Brooklyn Nets, and from the Nets to the 76ers. He’s as good at being disruptive as he is dominating on the court.
Will the Clippers rekindle trade talks? Leverage seems to have shifted from the 76ers to the Clippers.
A month ago, Plaschke wrote that the Clippers were desperate, “and this is a last-gasp season, and the craziest idea in the NBA makes total sense. James Harden would be the perfect addition to Los Angeles’ most imperfect franchise.”
That remains true today. And tomorrow perhaps Morey will lower his asking price to rid the 76ers of the star who yelled liar, liar, pants on fire. The Clippers no doubt will inquire.