James Harden wanted to get paid. It didn’t happen. Harden then wanted to get traded. He still is a member of the 76ers.
Now we have entered the “Harden makes it difficult for the 76ers to keep him” portion of the show, which continued in an interview with KHOU 11’s Jason Bristol in Houston at Harden’s series of charity events this weekend (a celebrity softball game and a kids’ carnival where he is reportedly feeding 4,000 families in need and providing backpacks, shoes and more to children heading off to school).
When asked if his relationship with the 76ers was beyond repair, Harden said, “I think so.”
When asked if he has been talking to the 76ers and has the patience to let things play out, Harden responded, “I’ve been patient all summer. For me, it’s just focus on what I can control and getting ready for this season.”
Harden took a $14.4 million pay cut last season to help the 76ers acquire P.J. Tucker and Danuel House, plus make a trade for De’Anthony Melton. Whatever was said or not said at the time, Harden was under the impression he would be made whole with a massive contract extension from Philadelphia this summer, but that’s not how Philly saw it and no offer came. Harden still wanted to get paid so he opted into his $35.6 million for this season but demanded a trade, specifically to the Los Angeles Clippers. However, Sixers president Daryl Morey has kept the asking price for Harden high while there is little market demand for the 33-year-old future Hall of Famer. The 76ers talked to teams, and the Clippers are interested, but none of the offers are anywhere near Morey’s steep asking price.
Which led to the 76ers saying they were ending efforts to trade Harden and expect him to come to camp. Harden turned around and called Morey a “liar,” and while he likely shows up to camp it’s going to be as a disruptive force aimed at pressuring the 76ers to make a deal.
This latest interview falls along those lines. Harden doesn’t have much of a relationship with the organization and feels he has played his role and been patient.
This remains a no-win situation for both sides. Philly will not get near what it wants for Harden in a trade and will have to deal with him as a distraction on a roster with championship aspirations if he comes to training camp. Harden is not going to get the next contract he wants from anyone, the market for him — with slippage in his play on the court and him forcing himself off three teams in four years now — is limited.
The entire Harden/76ers situation feels like it will get worse before it gets better.