Nothing to see here. Move along.
That appears it will be the result of the NBA’s inquiry into James Harden calling 76ers president Daryl Morey a liar, according to a report from Shams Charania of The Athletic.
If that’s what Harden told investigations, he may feel lied to but the 76ers did not violate the terms of the CBA.
Harden opted into a $35.6 million contract this season while demanding a trade from the 76ers, ideally to the Los Angeles Clippers. How hard Morey actually pursued a trade is up for debate, however, the 76ers did engage a number of teams in Harden trade talks this offseason (including the Clippers), league sources told NBC Sports. Morey kept the asking price for Harden high — an All-Star level player or enough picks and assets to flip into an All-Star player — and that, combined with Harden being in the last year of his contract and looking for his next big payday, had teams keeping their offers low. There is no demand for Harden at Morey’s asking price. So the 76ers leaked they were ending trade discussions and expected Harden to attend training camp. Soon after came Harden calling Morey a liar.
None of that violates the CBA. What would have violated the CBA is Morey or someone with the 76ers promising or insinuating Harden would get a larger contract down the line if he took a pay cut a year ago (which he did to the tune of $14.4 million). The NBA investigated that situation and found Morey and the 76ers tampered with free agents P.J. Tucker and Danuel House (by contacting them early), but said nothing of the Harden contract.
Harden, Morey, and the 76ers are on a collision course for early October when Harden is widely expected to report to 76ers camp but do his best to be a disruption. There have been some reports Harden has no plans to show up, however, the terms of the CBA make it likely he does appear, or he could forfeit his power to be a free agent next summer (if he holds out for more than 30 days).
This feels like it’s going to get a lot uglier before it gets resolved.
Just don’t expect the NBA to come in with any punishment for the 76ers.