PHILADELPHIA — James Harden appears determined to sever ties with the Philadelphia 76ers after the star guard called team president Daryl Morey a liar at a promotional event in China.
Harden’s comments — video of which surfaced Monday — came almost seven weeks after he picked up his $35.6 million option with the 76ers for this season and then promptly said he wanted to be traded.
The Sixers told Harden’s agent, Mike Silverman, over the weekend that Morey was unable to find a suitable deal and the franchise was not compelled to deal him unless it could find a package that would enhance their chance to contend, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the negotiations were not made public.
“Daryl Morey is a liar and I will never be a part of an organization that he’s a part of,” Harden said at the event. “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.”
Harden had posted mostly fan-friendly videos of the Asian tour on his Instagram account and appeared to make the comments at an event for the sneaker company that endorses him.
The 76ers had no comment on Monday.
Harden, who turns 34 later this month, could have declined the option and decided to try for free agency. Harden preferred a trade to the Los Angeles Clippers but those talks — and talks with other team — went nowhere.
Despite his comments, there was no immediate word on Harden's status for training camp, which opens in October — though it certainly doesn't seem promising.
Harden, a 10-time All-Star and 2018 NBA MVP, now 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 never developed, Harden wanted a trade to the 76ers — in large part, because of his strong professional and personal ties with Morey.
Harden did lead the league in assists this season, but one of the league’s great isolation scorers took a back seat to MVP Joel Embiid. But it appears playing as the second option behind Embiid and chasing a championship in Philly is no longer seriously on the table.
The 76ers flamed out in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs — and now seem stuck in the middle of the East under new coach Nick Nurse.
Harden scored 45 points in Game 1 and 42 in Game 4 victories against the Celtics. Harden and was 0 for 6 on 3s in Game 2 and Game 6 losses. He scored only nine points in Game 7, and he went scoreless in the second half.
The 76ers have been down this road before when former No. 1 pick Ben Simmons demanded a trade after his relationship soured with former coach Doc Rivers and others in the organization. Simmons caused a disruption in training camp in 2021, never played for the Sixers that season and was eventually traded — for Harden.