Former league MVP James Harden believes that it’s too late to repair his relationship with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Harden recently publicly ripped 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey, calling him a “liar” and stating that he will never be a part of an organization with Morey again.
EXCLUSIVE: James Harden tells me he thinks his relationship w/ 76ers is beyond repair.
"I've been patient all summer."
Back from China, he's in #Houston for his 'JH-Town Weekend,' including kids carnival & celebrity softball game for charity.
Story: https://t.co/qDTacHfa51 @KHOU pic.twitter.com/gSDdAVoo9S
— Jason Bristol (@JBristolKHOU) August 18, 2023
“I’ve been patient all summer,” Harden said about his relationship with the Sixers. “So for me, it’s just focusing on what I can control, and that’s working out, staying in shape and getting ready for a good season.”
Harden was then asked if it’s too late to repair his relationship with the franchise.
“I think so,” the 10-time All-Star guard said.
Harden opted into his contract with the Sixers this offseason rather than declining his player option to test free agency. It’s possible that he had an agreement in place that he would be traded, but that hasn’t happened yet this offseason.
If Harden decides to hold out from playing for the Sixers, it may force Morey’s hand to deal him since the team still wants to contend with reigning league MVP Joel Embiid on the roster.
During the 2022-23 season, Harden averaged 21.0 points, 6.1 rebounds and 10.7 assists per game while shooting 44.1 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from beyond the arc.
While he’s not the same player that he was when he won a league MVP with the Houston Rockets, Harden is clearly still an effective player. He’s averaged at least 21 points per game in every season since the 2012-13 campaign.
Harden’s comments have certainly put the Sixers in a tough place, as the 33-year-old seems to be trying to get some leverage to find his way out of Philly. The Sixers could lose some of their negotiating power in the trade market if Harden were to threaten to not play for the team.
During the 2021-22 season, the Sixers traded guard Ben Simmons to the Brooklyn Nets in a deal for Harden. The team has made the playoffs in both seasons with Harden on the roster, but it has failed to get past the second round.
It will be interesting to see how the Harden saga plays out for the rest of the offseason with the Sixers still intent on contending for a title.