Daryl Morey on James Harden trade request: 76ers need proper return or ‘we’re not going to do it’

76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey discussed James Harden’s trade request in detail during a local radio appearance on Tuesday. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Morey confirmed to Philadelphia’s 97.5 FM that Harden is looking for a trade. Athletic First reported last month.
  • While he tried to honor Harden’s trade request, Morey added: “If we don’t get a great player or something that can make us a very good player, we’re not going to do it.”
  • Discussing why Harden wants to leave, Morey said: “He wants a different situation contractually … if there’s something that can be done that’s win-win, helps the Sixers, we’ll look at it. If we can’t, we won’t.

AthleticInstant Analysis:

What is the likelihood of a deal being made?

Well, Morey has made it clear on the record that if he doesn’t like the prospect, he won’t be pushed into a corner to get something done. It’s interesting to use the Ben Simmons trade situation two years ago as a package, Morey waited too long to deal him for Harden, but as Morey said in the same interview, there were no other trades before the Harden deal came through.

It sounds like a similar situation where 76-year-olds don’t do anything until they get past what they want. Not only does Morey want to get a player back who can help the team in 2023-24 (or draft assets he can use to trade for one) but he’s trying to keep his cap sheet clean in future years. That’s a lot to go through at once, and it can limit what kind of deals he’s willing to back. The universe of acceptable earnings is getting smaller. Oh, and, as our Sam Amick reported, Harden wants to go to the LA Clippers.

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So, it looks like we’ll have a long wait for when this deal will be done, and anyway, there’s no kind of news that would indicate that something will definitely be done in the end. — Vorkunov

What else did More say?

“James is a very good player. Now, unfortunately, he wants to be somewhere else,” Morey said. “I have a long relationship with him. I try to respect that. But the truth is, if we see a trade it’s going to be one of two things. It’s going to be for one of the best teams in the East, one of the best teams in the East, the Celtics, for a player who continues to help us like last year, like last year. Obviously, we didn’t do that, but why did James take it at 3-2. Or we’re going to do it in a deal to get enough draft picks and things like that, and then we can make it a player that can work with Joel.

“If we don’t get a great player or something that can make us a very good player, we’re not going to do it. If James changes his mind, we’ll all be thrilled…but at this point he wants to be traded and we’re trying to respect that.

Morey addressed Embiid’s cryptic comments at the No Holds Barred Sports Film Festival last Thursday.

“He was fun yesterday,” Morey said. “He made those comments a few days ago in a semi-private event. They just came out. I talked to him at length yesterday. He talked to Coach Nurse yesterday … Coach Nurse plans to do some innovative things in training camp, and Joel is excited. He and I talked.

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“Look at part of it, at the end of the day he’s talking about the business of the NBA. He wants to win here; he wants to win it for Philly. That’s the only place he wants to win. He’s absolutely referring to the fact that where he is at all times is completely out of his control.

Backstory

Association sources said Athletic Harden opted out of his $35.6 million contract next season to work with the 10-time NBA All-Star and the 76ers in a trade from Philadelphia.

Harden, 33, averaged 21 points and 10.7 assists last season. He was traded from Brooklyn to Philadelphia in 2022 (along with Paul Millsap) for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and two first-round picks. Harden signed a two-year, $68,640,000 deal with the 76ers last offseason after taking a roughly $15 million pay cut in free agency.

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(Photo: Bill Streicher / USA Today)

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