The James Harden saga has provided us with another twist.
During his trip to China, a video of Harden calling Daryl Morey a “liar” went viral on social media. The 2018 MVP’s claims caught the attention of the NBA. An investigation ensued.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA is fining Harden $100,000 for his comments.
Harden is no stranger to bitter standoffs. We’ve seen similar actions from the All-Star guard in Houston and Brooklyn. Yet, the NBA likely feels that Harden’s comments put the Philadelphia 76ers in a bad light. By association, the league itself looked bad, too.
Morey is a tough negotiator. Harden’s future away from the Sixers will only become a reality if a team can produce an offer that doesn’t weaken Philadelphia’s position as an Eastern Conference contender. It would appear that Harden’s comments were meant to destabilize Morey’s negotiating power.
As things stand, the L.A. Clippers are the only team with a rumored interest in Harden’s services. Yet, that was before he went scorched Earth in his attempt to force a move. There have also been reports that Harden intends to skip Philadelphia’s training camp.
The NBA’s fine will only further feed the narrative that Harden overstepped the line in holding the team to ransom. Such petulance won’t encourage opposing teams to sit down at the negotiating table. Harden is risking being cast adrift into NBA purgatory. However, unlike Carmelo Anthony —who was the last player to find himself in no man’s land — Harden won’t have anyone fighting his corner.
There’s no coming back from his current situation with the Sixers. Harden has ensured his position is untenable. However, he hasn’t ensured he will be traded. Instead, he’ll find himself going cap-in-hand to teams around the league with promises that things will be different this time. We all know the truth, though.
And, for front offices around the league, it’s a case of “fool me once, fool me twice.” Harden’s NBA future has never been so uncertain, and shockingly, it’s all his own doing.