James Harden spoke his mind, and now he's paying the price.
The NBA fined the Philadelphia 76ers star $100,000 for "indicating that he would not perform the services called for under his player contract unless traded to another team," the league announced Tuesday. Those comments came as Harden publicly called Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey a "liar" at an event in China last week. He also reiterated his relationship with the Sixers was beyond repair in separate comments to a Houston TV station.
"The league’s investigation, which included an interview of Harden, confirmed that these comments referenced Harden’s belief that the 76ers would not accommodate his request to be traded," the league said in a statement.
That sizable fine of $100,000 is the maximum amount the NBA can issue to a player.
The National Basketball Players Association plans to file a grievance to dispute the fine.
"We respectfully disagree with the league's decision to discipline James Harden for recent comments he made, which we believe do not violate the rule against public trade demands," the NBPA said in a statement, in part.
Harden called Morey "a liar" while he was in China on Aug. 14. A video of the incident surfaced online later that day, and it shows he said more than that.
How’s Philly feeling this morning? Nobody could see this coming, right? pic.twitter.com/WFUcKFWFRz
— Vincent Goodwill (@VinceGoodwill) August 14, 2023
“Daryl Morey is a liar and I will never be a part of an organization that he’s a part of. Let me say that again: Daryl Morey is a liar and I will never be a part of an organization that he’s a part of.”
Why would Harden say such harsh things about Morey, a guy he worked with for years in their time with the Houston Rockets, and now Sixers, together? Harden picked up his $35.6 million player option this offseason, which Harden and Morey reportedly had a conversation about and agreed the Sixers would work to trade Harden.
Harden's "liar" comment was based on his belief Morey wouldn't honor their agreement. Harden reportedly only wanted to be traded to the Los Angeles Clippers, and when a significant offer didn't materialize, the Sixers reportedly ended trade discussions and plan on keeping Harden for the 2023-24 season.
What Harden says, what he thinks and what he feels are definitely different than what Harden is actually capable of doing in this situation. Since he picked up his player option, he has absolutely zero leverage. He has to play in Philly until they trade him, because if he sits out, he could possibly lose his free agent status.