Published: August 15, 2023, 11:21h.
Last Updated: August 15, 2023, 11:21h.
The ongoing trade dispute between former NBA MVP James Harden and Philadelphia 76ers’ general manager Daryl Morey has taken an interesting turn.
In June, Harden expressed his desire to be traded to the Los Angeles Clippers, but the 76ers were unable to agree on a suitable deal due to their high asking price for the 10-time NBA All-Star.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported over the weekend that the 76ers have now decided not to trade Harden, leading to a public outburst from Harden who accused Morey of lying.
During the previous season, the 76ers obtained the third seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, with center Joel Embiid delivering an outstanding performance and winning his first MVP award.
Despite a sweep against the Brooklyn Nets in the first round, the 76ers were eliminated by the Boston Celtics in a closely contested seven-game series. Harden’s performance declined significantly during the series, scoring only seven points in a do-or-die Game 7.
Harden Opts for $35.6M and Requests Clippers Trade
Following their playoff exit, the 76ers fired head coach Doc Rivers. Speculation emerged that the New York Knicks were interested in acquiring Embiid, which seemed unlikely considering Embiid’s recent MVP win.
The 76ers, however, swiftly dismissed the trade rumors and reiterated their commitment to building a championship-winning team. The next step for the 76ers relies heavily on the future of Harden, who holds a player option to extend his contract for one more year at $35.6 million.
Prior to last season, Harden signed a financially flexible contract with the 76ers, expecting them to offer him a new deal. The relationship between Harden and Morey soured when the 76ers showed little interest in extending his contract. If Harden were to explore free agency, his options would be limited to teams like the Houston Rockets and Orlando Magic, both of which have had poor records in recent years.
In June, Harden exercised his $35.6 million player option under the condition that the 76ers would trade him to the Clippers.
Harden Calls Morey a Liar
Speaking at an Adidas sponsored camp in China, Harden did not mince words when addressing the recent developments. He explicitly called Morey a liar and expressed his refusal to be part of any organization Morey is associated with.
Harden finds himself with limited options; he cannot sit out the upcoming season due to contractual obligations. However, there remains a possibility that Morey may reconsider trading Harden before the deadline and that the asking price may decrease. Changes in circumstances, such as injuries to contenders or unexpected runs by underdog teams, could also lead to desperate teams willing to overpay for Harden.
Futures Market: Nick Nurse and the 76ers
The window for the 76ers to win a championship with Embiid narrows each year. Recent seasons have been marred by drama surrounding Ben Simmons, and the fallout between Harden and Morey threatens to hinder this season’s progress.
Doc Rivers, who failed to lead the 76ers to the NBA Finals, was replaced by offensive guru Nick Nurse, who previously won a championship with the Toronto Raptors in the 2018-19 season. Nurse joined the 76ers in the belief that they have the potential to become champions with the presence of Embiid and Harden.
In the futures market, the 76ers are listed at +1500 odds to win the 2023-24 NBA championship, ranking them eighth overall at DraftKings. The 76ers have not won a championship in 40 years since their victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1983 NBA Finals led by Julius “Dr. J” Irving.
For the Eastern Conference title, the 76ers have +650 odds, placing them fourth on the futures board. Their last conference title win was in 2001.
The Boston Celtics are the favorites to win the Atlantic Division title at -210 odds, with the 76ers (+280), New York Knicks (+800), Brooklyn Nets (+2500), and Toronto Raptors (+3500) following behind.
Though the 76ers won 54 games last season, the projected win total for the upcoming season is set at 49.5 victories.