Report: James Harden and Daryl Morey’s relationship is ‘essentially fractured’

Sixers, James Harden
Philadelphia 76ers’ James Harden reacts to a foul called on him during the second half against the Brooklyn Nets in Game 3 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Thursday, April 20, 2023, in New York. After review, he was given a flagrant foul two, and ejected from the game. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

A new report has surfaced within the James Harden and Philadelphia 76ers trade saga, and it doesn’t bode well for Philly. NBA Insider Shams Charania has reported that he has learned that the “relationship between James Harden and Daryl Morey is essentially severed; it essentially fractured throughout this process.” He went on to explain that their relationship is fractured due to how Morey and the front office handled his impending free agency and that they were not going to give him the long-term deal he desired. Although he has been seen out with his teammates over the last few weeks, it looks like Harden would still like a one-way ticket out of the city of Brotherly Love.

Trust issues between James Harden and Daryl Morey

Charania mentioned that Harden’s relationship and trust for Morey is gone, and he is no longer willing to work things out with Morey and the Sixers. His trust was broken once the Sixers did not engage in a potential long-term free-agent deal before free agency started. Last offseason, Harden took a $15 million pay cut in order for the Sixers to sign players to make the roster better.

James Harden Daryl Morey
Philadelphia 76ers’ Daryl Morey speaks during a news conference at the NBA basketball team’s training facility, Wednesday, May 17, 2023, in Camden, N.J. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Albeit, those players were former Houston Rockets (P.J. Tucker and Danuel House Jr.) and most likely signed to appease Harden. Once Harden signed the deal for less than the max, there may have been a perceived agreement that he would get rewarded this offseason for his selflessness last summer. If trust is broken between the two close friends and the sides can’t reconcile, Harden will fall in line with all the previous distractions that the Sixers have dealt with in the Joel Embiid era.

Deal or no deal

With the Beard opting in and requesting a trade to his preferred destination of the Los Angeles Clippers, the Sixers may be beholden to his wishes due to the situation they find themselves in. Trading Harden to the Clippers may be the only way to salvage their personal and professional relationship. Will Morey waiver and trade Harden? Or will hold him hostage while waiting for the best deal, à la Ben Simmons?

James Harden Daryl Morey
Philadelphia 76ers’ James Harden reacts during the first half of Game 4 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series against the Miami Heat, Sunday, May 8, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The Sixers are looking to both stay competitive without Harden and keep their MVP happy, so they will need to nail this trade. It has been reported that Philadelphia would like to acquire enough assets from the Clippers to allow them to re-route that package for an All-Star-caliber player to play alongside Embiid, Tyrese Maxey, and Tobias Harris. They have recently been rumored to be connected to Chicago’s Zach LaVine and Portland’s Damian Lillard, although it seems as though Lillard is determined to land in Miami with the Heat. If Sixers can’t pry either Paul George or Kawhi Leonard away from LA, Morey will most likely wait until the best deal possible.

Writing on the Wall

We have seen what it looks like when James Harden isn’t enthusiastic and wants a change of scenery. In Houston, he showed up to camp and started the regular season out of shape. In Brooklyn, when he wanted out, his effort level dropped noticeably on the court, and he then sat out with injury. All the drama that has surrounded the 76ers over the last three seasons will continue if this leaks into training camp. Daryl Morey knows James Harden better than just about anyone. He knows what is coming, specifically if Harden’s mind is made up to leave. For both their sake, it may be best to move on.