James Harden explains ‘liar’ comment in NBA probe into his Daryl Morey, 76ers stance

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Apr 15, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden (1) against the Brooklyn Nets during game one of the 2023 NBA playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden reportedly spoke to NBA investigators. (Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports)

The NBA launched an investigation after Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden called the team’s general manager “a liar” in front of an audience at an event in China recently. As part of its continued investigation, the league has reportedly been given an explanation for those comments.

In addition to calling Daryl Morey a liar at publicity stop for his shoes, Harden also said he would “never be a part of an organization that he’s a part of.” The 10-time All-Star exercised his $35.6 million option for the 2023-24 season in June.

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He told league investigators he made that decision because Morey told him he would trade him “quickly,” according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. Now, the team is reportedly planning to retain Harden despite that promise.

The league has yet to announce its investigation into Harden’s situation. It was first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne, who said the probe is primarily focused on determining whether Harden’s 2023-24 holdout threat had anything to do with attempts at salary cap circumvention by the 76ers. There has been no reporting to suggest Philadelphia made an improper agreement with Harden regarding a future contract.

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Harden was reportedly under the impression Morey would help him move on to the Los Angeles Clippers. Both parties reportedly engaged in talks, but a deal never materialized, per ESPN.

When Harden came back from China, he doubled down by answering “I think so” when KHOU 11’s Jason Bristol asked if his relationship with the 76ers was beyond repair. He added that he’s “been patient all summer.”

With the 76ers ceasing trade discussions, Harden doesn’t seem to have much leverage. Especially because Morey’s words and past actions show he’s not likely to be pressured into a deal. The general manager would only let go of Harden for “either a very good player or something that we can turn into a very good player,” he told Forbes in July. When Ben Simmons didn’t want to play in Philadelphia, Morey kept him for most of the 2021-22 season until he could make a trade with the Brooklyn Nets for Harden.

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Harden is set to turn 34 this month and reportedly plans to report to Philadelphia’s training camp in October. But with his ugly 2021 exit from the Houston Rockets as the precedent, Harden seems likely to continue to make his displeasure known.

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