NBA reportedly launching inquiry into Harden situation

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NBA reportedly launching inquiry into Harden situation originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Not for the first time in recent history, the Sixers have reportedly come under NBA scrutiny.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne reported Saturday morning that the league has “launched an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Philadelphia 76ers star James Harden’s public admonishment of the franchise’s president of basketball operations, Daryl Morey.”

At an Adidas event in China, Harden said the following: “Daryl Morey is a liar and I will never be part of an organization that he’s a part of.”

Harden exercised his $35.6 million player option for the 2023-24 season in late July. He does remain in Morey’s organization despite the Sixers exploring trades this summer and having discussions with his preferred team, the Clippers. The Sixers ended trade talks approximately a week ago. They did not get near a deal with the Clippers, a team source said earlier this week.

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ESPN reported Saturday that, “Harden has privately indicated that his public comments calling Morey a ‘liar’ … had only been in response to Morey ending trade discussions with an expectation that Harden would start the season with the Sixers” and “Harden has made no allegations of a previous handshake agreement with the Sixers on a future contract.”

Those are crucial details.

Wojnarowski and Shelburne did report that the NBA is believed to be looking into whether Harden 1. “Was portending a 2023-24 holdout” and 2. “Had been referencing past contract discussions with the organization that might constitute salary cap circumvention.” However, if Harden does indeed not allege any sort of handshake agreement-related issue under the cap circumvention umbrella, it appears unlikely the NBA would find the Sixers violated any league rules in that area.

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The league also investigated the Sixers’ free agency last summer. While the NBA docked the Sixers second-round picks in the 2023 and 2024 drafts for premature discussions with free-agent signings PJ Tucker and Danuel House Jr, the league found no wrongdoing related to Harden, who declined his $47.4 million player option and ultimately signed a deal with a $33 million salary in Year 1. That move allowed the Sixers to add Tucker using the taxpayer mid-level exception and House using the bi-annual exception.

Sixers sources have told NBC Sports Philadelphia the team didn’t agree last summer on any future deals with Harden.

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Harden told KHOU 11’s Jason Bristol on Thursday night that he thinks it’s too late to repair his relationship with the Sixers.

Nick Nurse’s first training camp as Sixers head coach will start in early October. ESPN reported Saturday that Harden plans to report.

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