Wednesday, February 28 2024

Harden expands on Sixers exit, says split with Morey ‘surprised the hell out of me’ originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

James Harden still had some things to say about his departure from the Sixers.

In an interview with The Athletic’s Sam Amick, Harden discussed his transition to the Clippers and spoke at length about his exit from Philadelphia.

Harden said Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey told him he’d receive a max deal.

From Harden’s perspective, how did the situation devolve from there?

“Me and Daryl had a really good relationship,” Harden told The Athletic. “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.”

Amick asked Harden when exactly Morey told him he’d be getting the max.

“Well, the time that’s important was before the playoffs started (last season),” Harden said. “He had conversations with my representation.”

Sixers sources have been consistent in denying that the team made such a promise to Harden.

In the summer of 2022, Harden signed a two-year deal with a $33 million salary for the upcoming season and a $35.6 million player option for the 2023-24 campaign.

That contract gave the Sixers the ability to sign PJ Tucker and Danuel House Jr. When the NBA investigated the Sixers’ 2022 free agency, it docked the team one second-round pick apiece for premature contact with House and Tucker. The Sixers were not penalized for anything related to a future agreement with Harden.

This past summer also wasn’t short on drama for Harden and the Sixers. The 10-time All-Star guard called Morey a “liar” and was fined $100,000 for public trade demands. Eventually, with the Sixers sitting at 2-1, the team sent Harden and PJ Tucker to the Clippers.

“It was just patience,” Harden said of the saga, “because the day that I opted in, there was a conversation and communication (with the Sixers) about it being a 10-day process. This was gonna happen within 10 days, and then it got dragged out for four and a half months or however long it was. So at that point, you’re holding my life up, holding everybody else’s life up. You’re making it look crazier than what it is. And something that we had internal conversations about is basically dragging out, so it was a little frustrating.

“All in all, I’d sacrificed all that to go to Philly with some people that I trusted, and it bit me in the ass, you know what I mean? So it’s part of life, and we all go through certain things, so it’s gonna make me tougher.”

Harden had said in October that he’d initially wanted to retire as a Sixer.

He reiterated to Amick that he didn’t expect his once-strong relationship with Morey to deteriorate as it did.

“It surprised the hell out of me, you know what I mean? I looked at it like a marriage,” Harden said. “We talked about a lot of s—. And we’ve got a lot of s— that, in front of people’s eyes, you don’t know or understand. But instead of (Morey) having a conversation with me (about free agency) or saying, ‘All right James, we don’t want to offer you this, but we have this.’ Then we go back and forth, and that’s a dialogue.

“But you just ice me out? Then it’s like, you don’t respect me as much as I thought you did. You don’t need people like that, you know what I mean? So it’s just bad karma. People were throwing dirt on my name, but the good guys always win.”

Amick’s full interview with Harden can be read here.

Source: Yahoo Sports

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