The NBA fined James Harden $100,000 for openly requesting to be transferred in statements that included calling Daryl Morey of the Philadelphia 76ers a “liar.”
In June, the 10-time All-Star requested a trade, the same month he exercised his $35.6 million option for the 2023-24 season. However, no deal was reached, and NBA Online Betting PH reported this month that the 76ers had ended trade talks for the 33-year-old guard.
During an Adidas event in China on Aug. 14, Harden revealed his anger with Morey, the 76ers’ head of basketball operations.
“Daryl Morey is a liar, and I will never be a part of an organization that he’s a part of,” Harden declared at the time. “I’ll say it again. Daryl Morey is a liar, and I will never be a part of an organization where he is involved.”
In an interview with Houston’s KHOU 11, Harden expressed a similar perspective, saying, “I think so” when asked if his situation in Philadelphia was beyond repair.
The NBA mentioned Harden’s Aug. 14 and Aug. 17 comments in its decision to punish him.
The NBA stated in their release that “the league’s investigation, which included an interview with Harden, confirmed that these comments referenced Harden’s belief that the 76ers would not accommodate his request to be traded.”
Harden, who the 76ers acquired from the Nets in a midseason trade in February 2022, agreed to a $15 million salary cut before last season to help Philadelphia create a better team around him.
“I told Daryl to improve the roster, sign who we needed to sign and give me whatever is left over,” Harden said at the time, according to Yahoo! Sports.
“You have no idea how badly I want to win. I want to compete in a championship. At this point, that’s all that counts to me. I’m willing to accept less to put us in a position to achieve that.”
In 2022-23, Philadelphia 76ers went 54-28 and finished third in the Eastern Conference, Harden’s first complete season there. Despite having a squad that features the reigning NBA MVP, the team has not moved past the second round in any postseason since Harden signed.
Last season, Harden averaged 21 points and 10.7 assists per game. He scored more than 40 points in two of Philadelphia’s victories in a second-round playoff series against the Boston Celtics, but he didn’t score more than 17 points in any other game during his team’s final seven-game loss. Harden scored 13 points on 4-of-16 in Game 6 and 9 points on 3-of-11 in Game 7.
According to NBA Online Betting PH, a maximum contract with Philadelphia this summer would have helped Harden make up for the wage reduction he received last year, but such an offer never came. Before abandoning their quest, the 76ers allegedly decided to seek a trade and held talks with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Harden’s request for a trade this summer was not the first in recent years. He was widely reported to have sought to be released by Houston before being traded to the Nets in January 2021, just weeks after arriving at the Rockets training camp out of condition.
Harden and Kevin Durant were traded to the Nets, with whom he previously played in Oklahoma City, and Kyrie Irving. However, the All-Star trio only played 16 games together before the Nets traded the again-disgruntled Harden to Philadelphia in a deal that brought back Ben Simmons.
Morey had acquired Harden for the second time in that transaction. Morey was the Rockets’ general manager when Houston acquired him in a trade in 2012.