The Philadelphia 76ers ended trade talks for James Harden over the weekend, and now, Harden has responded in a big way. In a video that began circulating on the internet on Monday morning of Harden at his basketball camp in China, Harden twice called Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey a “liar” and vowed that he will “never be part of an organization that he’s a part of.”
James Harden on his China tour: “Daryl Morey is a liar and I will never be a part of an organization that he’s a part of. 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.” 😳 pic.twitter.com/oaqVjXkax6
— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) August 14, 2023
James Harden: “Daryl Morey is a liar and I will never be a part of an organization that he’s a part of. 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.” pic.twitter.com/AmHJ0WwbF2
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 14, 2023
While a report indicated that the years-long relationship between Morey and Harden was “fractured” earlier this offseason, this is nonetheless a stunning escalation by Harden, who has a reputation for trying to force a team’s hand when he wants out. This appears to be a reference to Harden’s decision to take less money on a shorter deal in free agency last offseason to let the Sixers have a bit more financial flexibility to build a team around Harden and Joel Embiid. Reports at the time said that some questioned if Harden had a handshake agreement on a future contract, one that would have compensated him for his sacrifice while simultaneously being illegal under the rules of the CBA. The team did not face any sort of penalty for that, but did lose a pair of second-round NBA Draft picks after it was determined they discussed deals with P.J. Tucker and Danuel House before they were permitted.
Harden requested a trade at the start of the offseason after opting into the final year of his contract, and while reports indicated Philadelphia’s front office would work to help him find a new destination, it came with one major catch: Morey publicly said the team would not just trade Harden if it came at the expense of their ability to win a championship. Their inability to find a deal that would make that happen — primarily with the Los Angeles Clippers, which was Harden’s reported preferred landing spot – meant that the team ended trade conversations over the weekend, even if it meant that it set up what Adrian Wojnarowski called an “uncomfortable situation” entering training camp.