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76ers star James Harden to NBA investigators: ‘Daryl Morey told me I would be traded after opting in’

James Foglio profile picture
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Philadelphia 76ers star James Harden to NBA investigators Daryl Morey told me I would be traded after opting in
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Philadelphia 76ers star James Harden told NBA investigators that Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey said to him that he would be traded after opting in for the 2023-24 season. Trade talks are nonexistent, per sources.

On Saturday, the league launched an inquiry into the circumstances that led to the 10-time All-Star bashing Morey and calling him a liar during an Adidas event in China last week.

Harden was filmed saying, “Daryl Morey is a liar, and I will never be a part of an organization that he’s a part of. 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.”

Over the weekend, context was added for his comment. “James Harden told league investigators he was referring to Daryl Morey telling Harden he will trade him ‘quickly’ following the $35.6 million opt in for 2023-24,” Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

However, it is possible that Harden was referring to a new contract. Perhaps Morey was dishonest about offering a new deal. The Sixers could’ve offered Harden as much as a four-year, $213 million contract in free agency. Though, that would have required a long-term commitment. Regardless, the 76ers currently expect to keep Harden.

The NBA launched its investigation because “the league office is believed to be pursuing an understanding of whether Harden was portending a 2023-24 holdout in violation of the league’s collective bargaining agreement or had been referencing past contract discussions with the organization that might constitute salary cap circumvention,” per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Philadelphia 76ers star James Harden says he called Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey a liar in China because Morey told him he would trade him after opting in for the 2023-24 season

Neither the Philadelphia 76ers nor Harden have violated any rules. During an interview with a KHOU 11 television reporter in Houston on Thursday, the seven-time All-NBA member was asked if his relationship with the Sixers was beyond repair.

“I think so,” Harden replied. “I’ve been patient all summer. For me, it’s just focus on what I can control and getting ready for this season.”

While in China, the 14-year veteran also refused to sign a fan’s Sixers jersey. “I was stunned on the spot; my buddy and I put a 76ers jersey in front of him, but he wouldn’t sign it,” the fan posted on Chinese forum Hupu. The message was translated to English.

On June 29, James Harden requested a trade from the 76ers. This came after he picked up the $35.6 million player option on his current deal for the 2023-24 season. His player option is part of the two-year, $68.64 million contract he signed last July.

The Los Angeles Clippers were rumored to trade for Harden after opting in. Likewise, Harden was rumored to return to the Rockets. But Morey never pulled the trigger on a potential trade. A similar situation played out with ex-Sixer Ben Simmons.

The three-time All-Star sat out the entire 2021-22 season. In February 2022, the Sixers traded him to the Brooklyn Nets. Harden signed his two-year deal last offseason after declining a $47.4 million player option for the 2022-23 season.

In 58 starts with the Sixers this past season, Harden averaged 21 points, 6.1 rebounds, 10.7 assists, 1.2 steals, and 36.8 minutes per game. Sportsbooks still expect the guard to be traded in the coming months.

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James is a Basketball Insiders contributor. He earned his bachelor's degree in English and Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University. James enjoys watching sports and helping gamblers win money.

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