A year ago, the vibes were just right. James Harden had just taken his major pay cut, allowing the Philadelphia 76ers to make room to sign P.J. Tucker and Danuel House Jr.
Our Tariq Maxwell Karibian wrote that Philly basketball and hip-hop collided in the Hamptons at former Sixers’ minority stake owner, Michael Rubin’s annual star-studded Hamptons white outfit themed party.
Fans were thrilled to see the team really enjoying themselves last summer:
Embiid, Harden and PJ Tucker vibing hard to Meek Mill at Michael Rubin’s white party.— Barstool Philly (@BarstoolPhilly) July 4, 2022
Rubin ran the party back this weekend. Per the DailyMail:
“Rubin, 49, and his girlfriend 32-year-old Camille Fishel welcomed 350 celebrities, models, influencers and business titans to their enormous $50million Bridgehampton pad last night for their annual show-stopping bash.
Jay Z, Beyoncé, Kelly Rowland, Kim Kardashian, Kendall Jenner, J-Lo, Ben Affleck, Leonardo Di Caprio, Tom Brady and Kylian Mbappé were among the astonishing crowd of guests at the $50million beachside property.”
But for Sixers fans it hits a lot different this time around. Like a lot.
Rather than dancing and general team bonding, that made the rounds on Sixers twitter, instead, it was this still shot:
Harden, always fashionable, was photographed talking with a man who looks like team owner Josh Harris.
That’s significant given the vastly different circumstances surrounding the team this summer. Harden is reportedly seeking a trade after an acrimonious, and abrupt start and finish to his free agency. He surprised us and opted in to the final year, simultaneously asking for a trade. He’s hoping to land with the Clippers.
According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, Harden and Daryl Morey’s longstanding partnership seems to be ending in a bitter divorce after Morey, purportedly fearing anti-tampering penalties, went “radio silent” on James, who had been seeking a long-term deal to stay in Philadelphia.
Amick says Morey & Harden are "not attached at the hip anymore, James is very unhappy..." because of the "radio silence" Harden got from Sixers on his FA. Says Harden's camp "read the room" and understood there was no "quid pro quo" coming from last summer's paycut, so opted in pic.twitter.com/Wfqpr3sDgB— DaveEarly (@DavidEarly) July 3, 2023
Amick said he asked sources if Harden might remain with the Sixers in the end, similar to Kevin Durant’s situation in Brooklyn last offseason:
“...that door, I was told, was shut right away. Like the Sixers understand that’s not happening. So then the next question is, okay what about the [Clippers]? And then it was like ‘well, we’ll see,’” per “Good Word With Goodwill” pod.
So was Josh Harris playing arbiter between Harden and Morey or were they just talking L.A. real estate and weather?
Some interesting Fourth of July weekend company for James Harden pic.twitter.com/T4JuvfLGRr— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) July 4, 2023
I know it’s just a still shot but if you squint closely enough you can read Harden’s lips as saying ‘bruh, if ya’ll didn’t want to pay me even after I took a pay cut last year, it is what it is, it’s a cold business, just don’t pretend ya’ll had to go dark on me ’cause of tampering.’
And you can’t see his face (maybe it’s just a great look alike) but Harris is probably saying ‘we did want to work something out, that’s my fault, I told Daryl he had to play by the rules to save our draft picks, you put that on me. We want you back. If we can find a trade that works out for everyone, we’ll try to accommodate, but we really love having you here. Last season was the most fun I’ve had as an owner, hands down.’
To which Harden probably replies ‘okay be honest, did you make Daryl keep Doc Rivers and duck the luxury tax last summer all to save money to buy the Washington Commanders?’
Okay you got me, I made all of that up. But what do you want from me, this is a basketball blog post about a party in the Hamptons for millionaires and billionaires, I’m out of my element.
We did get a Joel Embiid sighting. If Joel, a well-documented homebody leaves his couch to do anything other than play basketball, it’s kind of a big deal.
In this photo you can see Joel mouthing the words: ‘is it Dame time, ’cause they’re are on the clock with me...’
Tobias Harris, another player whose name always pops up in trade rumors, was there too:
And Tyrese Maxey, whose name has popped up as well.
Jokes aside, it definitely makes you curious to think about the awkward conversations Embiid and Harden or Harden and Josh Harris may have had after a few drinks.
If the Miami Heat wind up landing Damian Lillard, and the Sixers march into training camp with a Ben Simmons style trade stalemate, the fanbase is going to be, well..., y’know, ornery times a million.