The messier the James Harden situation gets, the better for teams such as the New York Knicks, who are not-so-secretly hoping Joel Embiid will ask out of Philadelphia.
The Harden drama has provided entertainment for an otherwise dull part of the offseason. He called Daryl Morey a “liar” at an Adidas event in China last week and a few days later told KHOU 11 that he believes his relationship with the Sixers is irreparable.
The NBA launched an investigation into Harden’s situation, and The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported Harden claims Morey told him that he would be traded “quickly” after he opted into his $35.6 million player option for 2023-24. That didn’t happen, which prompted Harden to call Morey out.
Philadelphia has maintained its stance about keeping Harden, but according to The Athletic (subscription required), the guard “currently has no plans of taking part in training camp.” Harden is displeased with how his time with the Sixers has played out, and things got worse on Tuesday when ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the NBA was fining Harden $100,000.
NBA fines Knicks rival James Harden $100,000 for calling Daryl Morey a “liar”
Let’s be honest — $100,000 is nothing to James Harden. What is a fortune for the average citizen is pocket change for Harden, who has made approximately $301 million throughout his NBA career.
The fine was reported not too long ago, but many have already questioned why the NBA fined Harden for his comments, which can be explained in the new CBA.
It won’t be an issue for Harden to dish out $100,000, but given he’s already frustrated with his situation, the fine is another point of contention in his standoff with Morey and the Sixers. Harden has never had an issue with taking things to extreme measures to get what he wants (i.e., a trade), and his situation in Philadelphia is worse than it was in Houston or Brooklyn.
There are two months until the start of the 2023-24 regular season, so time is ticking for Philadelphia and Harden to reach a resolution. The Sixers want to keep Harden because it allows them to keep an All-Star talent beside Embiid, the face of the franchise.
The reigning MVP is in his prime and wants to win, and Philadelphia is quickly fading as a place where he can do that. Embiid hasn’t spoken publicly about how things between Harden and the Sixers have played out, but it’s becoming more of a distraction than the Ben Simmons saga.
Is there a breaking point for Joel Embiid where he’ll deem enough is enough and request a trade? Leon Rose and the Knicks sure hope so.