Philadelphia 76ers star James Harden was noticeably absent from the team’s annual preseason media day on Monday. The 10-time All-Star, who has been open about his desire to be traded to the Los Angeles Clippers, skipped the event because of the ongoing tensions with the 76ers organization.
This isn’t the first time Harden’s off-court actions have created headlines. In 2020, while with the Houston Rockets, Harden missed training camp due to trade demands, causing controversy by choosing to party in Las Vegas.
Despite the criticism, he displayed his on-court talent by dropping 44 points and 17 assists in his season-opening game for the Rockets. CJ McCollum his opponent after the match stated, “James is really good. Regardless of what James does in his spare time, James is really f—ing good at basketball. Like, he’s really good.”
In 2020, Harden skipped the Rockets training camp because he wanted out. He was criticized for partying in Las Vegas instead of being at training camp.
He showed up the first game of the season and dropped 44 points and 17 assists.
CJ McCollum after the game: “Regardless of… pic.twitter.com/OaIjFWDClT
— BGN Hoops (@BGNHoops) October 2, 2023
Reports from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski indicate Harden’s frustration has intensified over the team’s hesitation to facilitate his move to the Clippers. The 76ers and Clippers have been engaged in trade talks, but nothing has worked out yet. Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports reported that the delay is primarily because of the Sixers’ demand for greater draft capital than what the Clippers are currently willing to offer.
Team president of basketball operations, Daryl Morey, addressed Harden’s absence, stating, “He continues to seek a trade, and we’re working with his representation to resolve that in the best way for the 76ers and for all parties,”
Will the Sixers follow the Rockets’ approach with James Harden?
The James Harden saga is a similar situation the Sixers faced just two years back, with Ben Simmons sitting out the entire 2021-22 season due to trade demands. The Sixers held firm until February 2022 before trading Simmons to the Brooklyn Nets.
Recalling Harden’s time with the Rockets, he requested a trade during the offseason, he played only eight matches before getting traded to the Brooklyn Nets, a team that he had shown his interest in. Harden, however, has less leverage with the Sixers. If he chooses to sit out, the Sixers could potentially prevent him from hitting free agency. The recent $100,000 fine Harden received for making negative comments about Morey at a commercial event in China shows that nothing is stopping him from applying more pressure.
James Harden received a maximum of $100,000 fine from the NBA for his public comments 😳 pic.twitter.com/k21l3OzDrp
— BasketNews (@BasketNews_com) August 22, 2023
If history is used as a guide, Philadelphia might decide to keep Harden on their roster until they receive an offer that meets their expectations. According to David Aldridge of The Athletic, the Clippers remain the only serious contender for Harden, suggesting the Sixers might not feel rushed to make a decision. However, with training camp already started in Colorado and Harden showing no signs of participation, the Sixers face a tough decision.