In a new revelation, James Harden disclosed that prior to the 2022-23 NBA season, Daryl Morey, the president of the Philadelphia 76ers, pledged a max contract to convince Harden to decline a $47 million player option, facilitating cap space for the team.
Despite the commitment, Harden claims Morey failed to uphold his promise and ceased communication about the max deal, leaving Harden in the dark.
Faced with such a situation, the former MVP opted into his player option for the 2023-24 season but swiftly requested a trade to the Los Angeles Clippers, a wish eventually granted after months of uncertainty.
During a candid interview with Sam Amick of The Athletic, Harden clarified that Morey assured him of a max deal, but communication abruptly halted in the offseason.
Harden expressed his disappointment, stating, “Yeah, me and Daryl had a really good relationship. 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.”
Feeling slighted, Harden emphasized the strategic nature of his decision, defending his choice to opt in.
“It would have looked different for sure,” he said. “The teams that are growing, or young, were gonna have the money, but that doesn’t make sense. 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.”