For the second time in three seasons, the Philadelphia 76ers and their general manager, Daryl Morey, are entangled in a trade request from their southpaw starting point guard following a second-round, Game 7 flameout. This year, it’s the man who Philadelphia traded Ben Simmons for in James Harden, who exercised his $35.6 million player option in late June under the belief he’d be traded, with eyes set on the Los Angeles Clippers.
Nearly two months later, Harden remains a Sixer and a recent report indicated the team intends to enter training camp with him on the roster and have halted trade negotiations. That news has not resonated positively for Harden, who “has no plans” to participant in training camp. While on tour in China, the All-Star point guard empathically called Morey a “liar” and said he’ll “never be part of an organization that he’s a part of” on Monday. Those declarative comments seem to be merely the initial rollout of Harden’s frustrations and plans.
“This is only the beginning,” ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne said. “This is just the beginning of what James Harden is going to do to make life very uncomfortable for the Philadelphia 76ers going into training camp.”
“This is just the beginning of what James Harden is going to do to make life very uncomfortable for the Philadelphia 76ers going into training camp.”@ramonashelburne on the tension between Harden and the Sixers. pic.twitter.com/OCLF5ieSvf
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) August 15, 2023
Shelburne juxtaposed it to Simmons’ holdout two years ago, noting that Simmons was absent from training camp, stayed away from the team and didn’t make much noise.
“That’s not gonna happen here with James Harden,” she said. “This is going to be very uncomfortable. … The phrase I kept hearing was, ‘this is just the beginning.”
With two months until camp starts, we’ll have to wait to see what exactly an escalation on Harden’s part looks like, but it’ll be fascinating to watch from the outside (and likely pretty miserable on the inside for the Sixers until there’s a resolution).