As they are currently under the scope of league investigation, Doc Rivers has rejected the tampering narratives being thrown against the Philadelphia 76ers.
“You handle it, because it’s not true,” Rivers said upon appearing in ESPN’s The VC Show podcast, via Michael Kaskey-Blomain of CBS Sports. “Honestly, when James [Harden] did this and said this … first of all, we didn’t know what we were going to do with the money we were getting. And listen, James won, too, because James could’ve opted into a one-year deal. Instead, we gave him three years. And so both parties won in a lot of ways. Listen, it worked out for us, it worked out for James.
“I guarantee you [Sixers president of basketball operations] Daryl Morey had no idea what James was going to do,” Rivers said. “I remember talking to him on the eve of when James could opt in or out, and he was like, ‘We’ve got five hours left.’ I mean, that was Daryl Morey, so that tells you he had no idea… I really believed that James was not going to opt in, that he was going to try to do a longer-term deal. But I didn’t know, I can tell you that. That’s for sure.”
From the previous days, the NBA announced they’ll open up an investigation against the Sixers’ tampering allegations, wherein ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski has noted that it is centered around James Harden’s declining of $47.4 his million player option and signing of a much cheaper two-year, $68 million deal in one hand.
The second year of his brand-new deal contains a player option in which the former league MVP can opt out, become an unrestricted free agent, and ink a much bigger proposal money in the 2023 offseason — which raised suspicions in the league circles that there is an agreed contract that was already settled by both Harden and President Daryl Morey for the next few years.
Per league’s collective bargaining agreement, it is illegal for a player and a franchise to knot ties upon arranging an agreed deal in the future.
Notably, Harden made headlines upon claiming that this pay cut he made is for the reconstruction of the club’s lineup in order to compete for an elusive title. Eventually, P.J. Tucker was handed a three-year, $30 million deal and Danuel House got a two-year, $8.4 million bag — two familiar faces for both him and Morey looking back from their Houston Rockets days.
Should Sixers get penalized for the said matter, it could cost them a future draft pick. As such, given that the Sixers are now much modified to contend, this might eventually mean less on their part as a championship aspirant.