After months of speculation, James Harden finally went on the record about what ended his decade-long relationship with Daryl Morey, current president of basketball operations for the Philadelphia 76ers and former GM of the Houston Rockets.
And it's exactly what reports have indicated all along: According to Harden, Morey promised him a max extension, and then when Morey didn't contact him this past summer, Harden felt betrayed.
Sam Amick of The Athletic asked Harden that question during a recent interview.
Amick: So you mention the financial part, and I was hoping you could clarify one aspect of that situation. Were you actually told by the Sixers that you had that deal coming?
Harden: A max?
Amick: That was said by Daryl?
Harden: Yes. Yes.
Amick tried to nail down the date when Morey actually said this to Harden, but didn't get too far.
Amick: But timing-wise, when did Daryl tell you that you’d be getting the max?
Harden: Well, the time that’s important was before the playoffs started (last season). He had conversations with my representation.
When reached about Harden’s claim, a Sixers team source denied this was the case.
Harden also revealed that the betrayal cut even deeper for him after he opted into his 2023-24 deal with the Sixers. That opt-in came with a trade request to get Harden out of Philly (preferably to the Los Angeles Clippers). According to Harden, when he (or his representation) spoke with the Sixers about the trade request, the team said it would be a 10-day process. It did not end up that way, with Morey first reportedly deciding to end trade talks before Harden finally got his trade to the Clippers on Oct. 31.
"This was gonna happen within 10 days, and then it got dragged out for four and a half months or however long it was," Harden said.
So when Harden told a group of fans in China that "Daryl Morey is a liar and I will never be a part of an organization that he’s a part of," he felt he had multiple reasons to do so. However, the NBA disagreed and fined him $100,000.
Harden has said before that his relationship with Morey is beyond repair, but he said it one more time to Amick for good measure.
"There’s too much money, too much respect (lost) and too much loyalty on my end to even double back (with Morey)," Harden said. "There’s nothing to talk about. There’s nothing to talk about. This is real money."
Or, in the immortal words of Taylor Swift: "We are never, ever getting back together."