James Harden finally discussed his spat with 76ers president Daryl Morey, when he referred to him as a “liar” this past summer while he was looking to be dealt to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Harden ultimately got his wish, but it came after the regular season began.
Now, Harden talked about the Morey comment with The Athletic, where he confirmed that the 76ers did say to him a “max” contract extension would be coming when interviewer Sam Amick asked if he was “actually told by the Sixers that you had a deal coming.”
Harden said the “max” comment came from Morey, who was with Harden as a member of the Houston Rockets front office before they were both in Philadelphia.
“Yeah, me and Daryl had a really good relationship,” Harden explained in the interview. “So (in the past), a week or two after we lose in the playoffs, it would be all about trying to figure out how to improve the team. (They’d talk about) ‘How do we get better?’ And that’s been going on for 10-plus years, you know what I mean?
“And then this year, there was no communication. And at that point, it’s like, ‘OK, I see what’s going on.’ I’m very intelligent. So then I just figure out ‘What’s my next move, and what do I want to do?’ So I understand that, at the end of the day, this is a business. And just like he has to do what’s best for his organization, I’ve got to do what’s best for me and my family. It’s as simple as that.”
Despite the animosity that was going on between player and organization, Harden opted into his player option for the 2023-24 NBA season with the 76ers.
His explanation was simple math in his head.
“The teams that are growing, or young, were gonna have the money, but that doesn’t make sense,” Harden said.
“And then the competitive teams don’t have the money. So all in all, it would have probably ended up with me looking Philly in the face again. So it was strategic, and people can talk and say (things), but they have no idea (without being) in this situation. Like I continue to say, I made the best decision for myself and my family.”
Looking at where each team is now, the 76ers are fourth in the Eastern Conference with a 12-7 record, as reigning MVP Joel Embiid and budding star Tyrese Maxey lead the way in Philly.
Meanwhile, the Clippers did not have a hot start when Harden joined a mix of stars that included Russell Westbrook and Kawhi Leonard.
They are 5-8 since he joined the team, with Harden averaging 15 points per contest. He also has four rebounds and six assists per game.
Los Angeles is 9-10 on the season and sits ninth in the Western Conference.