James Harden has vented his dissatisfaction with the Philadelphia 76ers as his efforts to leave the team appear to have stalled.
The 76ers agreed to look into trading the 10-time All-Star in June. Harden’s preferred destination is the Los Angeles Clippers but sources have told ESPN that the Sixers’ have asked for too much in return. ESPN now reports that the 76ers want Harden to report to training camp for the start of the season.
“[76ers president] Daryl Morey is a liar and I will never be a part of an organization that he’s a part of,” Harden said during an Adidas event in China on Monday. “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.”
The 76ers have clear problems as the new season approaches. They are still hurting after blowing a 3-2 series lead to rivals Boston Celtics in last season’s Eastern Conference semi-finals, and they fired their coach, Doc Rivers, in the aftermath. The Sixers hope to have Harden playing alongside the reigning NBA MVP, Joel Embiid, in the coming season. But Harden was already unhappy with his contract before the trade talks and Embiid played poorly in the postseason, raising questions about his ability to carry a team to a title.
There would be further repercussions for Harden. Under the terms of the NBA collective bargaining agreement, if he holds out for more than 30 days at the start of the season, he will not be able to become a free agent next off-season.
Harden, the 2018 NBA MVP, has tried to force his way off his third team in three years. Harden blossomed into a star with the Houston Rockets – when Morey ran the team – until he wanted a trade to Brooklyn. The Rockets eventually agreed and shipped him to the Nets. When a Big Three championship run with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving failed to develop, Harden wanted a trade to the 76ers – in large part, because of his strong professional and personal ties with Morey.
Harden did lead the NBA in assists this season, but one of the league’s great isolation scorers took a back seat to Embiid. It now appears that playing as the second option behind Embiid and chasing a championship in Philly is no longer seriously on the table.
The 76ers have been down this road before when former No 1 draft pick Ben Simmons demanded a trade after his relationship soured with Rivers and others in the organization. Simmons caused a disruption in training camp in 2021, never played for the Sixers that season and eventually was traded for Harden.