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Harden will play for 76ers but can’t fix Morey relationship

James Harden #1 of the Philadelphia 76ers. Photo: Jesse D. Garrabrant / NBAE / Getty Images / Getty Images via AFP

Philadelphia 76ers star guard James Harden said Friday his relationship with Sixers executive Daryl Morey cannot be repaired but he plans to play for the NBA club this coming season.

The 34-year-old American, a three-time NBA scoring champion who led the league in assists last season, saw his relationship with team president of basketball operations Morey sour after he opted into a $35.6 million contract for the 2023-24 season.

Harden made that decision expecting that he would be traded to the Los Angeles Clippers as he had requested but no deal materialized.

“This is not even about this situation. This is in life,” Harden said in his first comments since rejoining the 76ers last week.

“When you lose trust in someone, it’s like a marriage. You lose trust in someone. Know what I mean? It’s pretty simple.”

Harden, the 2018 NBA Most Valuable Player and a 2012 Olympic gold medalist, was obtained by Morey from Oklahoma City 11 years ago when Morey was with the Houston Rockets.

Morey departed the Rockets in 2020 for the 76ers and in January 2021 Harden was traded to the Brooklyn Nets, where he stayed for just over a year before being traded to the 76ers, reuniting him with Morey.

“When I got traded here my whole thing is I wanted to retire a Sixer,” Harden said Friday. “And the front office didn’t have that in their future plans.”

Harden said that after years of good communication with the “front office,” there was only silence after the Sixers lost to Boston in last season’s Eastern Conference playoff semi-finals.

“There was no communication once we lost,” he said.

Harden called Morey a “liar” last August at an event in China and vowed not to be part of any organization with him.

But Harden says now he’s ready to play for the 76ers alongside NBA MVP Joel Embiid as the club tries to capture a championship.

“I come in here today and work my butt off, do the things that are necessary as a professional, do what I’ve been doing for 15 years,” said Harden.

“I can control what I can control. I take it one day at a time and focus on each day as a new day. My plan is to play basketball, yes, for sure.”

Harden, a 10-time NBA All-Star, has averaged 24.7 points, 7.0 assists, 5.6 rebounds and 1.5 steals a game during his 14 NBA seasons.

Harden played in the 2012 NBA Finals for Oklahoma City, when the Thunder lost to Miami and was voted the NBA Sixth Man of the Year as the league’s top reserve.

He hasn’t made it back to the NBA Finals, losing twice with Houston to Golden State in the Western Conference finals. His teams lost in the Eastern Conference semi-finals the past three seasons.

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