It has been weeks since we’ve heard anything about James Harden, especially after he was fined $10,000 for calling Daryl Morey a liar. The 76ers’ shooting guard stated that about Morey during a trip to China. That was the last we had heard about the feud.
The relationship between Harden and Morey has fallen apart since the latter traded for the former as a third-year player with the Thunder.
According to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, the lengthy tiff between them is mostly the result of hurt feelings that built up over time, and a lack of honest communication. The first cracks began to show leading up to the 2023 All-Star game.
Harden, who had been an all-star for 10 straight seasons was not voted in in 2022. NBA commissioner Adam Silver had reportedly planned to offer Harden a spot as an injury replacement as long as he promised he’d show up and play. Harden pouted and didn’t call Silver back right away. The 34-year-old missed a chance to play in his 11th straight NBA all-star game.
Doc Rivers didn’t help the situation. According to Shelburne, Rivers rode Harden pretty hard behind the scenes, leading to “flare-ups” between the coach and player throughout the season. In late February, Harden actually flew separately from the team to Miami before a game against the Heat. Harden wanted to soak up some of the nightlife. Nothing is unusual about this. Traveling separately for personal reasons (like having fun) isn’t uncommon in the NBA, and Harden has done it before.
The Daryl Morey- James Harden situation mutated into its current form after the Sixers’ season reached its disappointing end. Rivers was fired after the season. Shelburne reported that, unofficially, the change was made because the Sixers knew Harden didn’t want to play for Rivers again. With Rivers gone, Morey was reportedly focused on offering Harden a contract, but there were internal discussions on how much the Sixers should offer him. Harden’s camp was expecting to hear about a 4-year, $210 million deal. Harden never heard from Morey leading up to the July 1 deadline.
According to Shelburne, Harden felt like Morey was “ghosting” him, and took that personally. So without warning, Harden told his agents to pick up his $35.6 million player option and ask for a trade out of Philly. Morey and the Sixers had no idea this was coming, and had reportedly been preparing to offer him a contract, but didn’t want to reach out too soon for a very good reason.
After that, the rest is history. Morey shopped Harden around, especially to his preferred team (the Los Angeles Clippers), but what interest there had been in acquiring Harden had evaporated, especially in light of Morey’s massive asking price.
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