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Beverley: ‘if I agree on a handshake and I was supposed to get a bag, hell yeah I would be waiting on my bag.’

James Harden provides never ending fun for everyone involved. Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey apparently watch from afar in L.A., working out with Drew Hanlen.

Los Angeles Lakers v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Here we go. It’s the summer of brutal James Harden news and there’s some more for ya, and I gotta admit, it’s pretty juicy. Like, in an NBA “Entertainment Tonight” or TMZ kind of way.

The latest comes from long-time teammate of Harden’s, dating back to their Houston Rockets days, and long-time player for Daryl Morey in the same town, Sixers new veteran guard, Patrick Beverley.

He hosts The Pat Bev Podcast with Rone. On a new edition the hosts discuss James Harden’s vague, indirect, but nonetheless scathing accusations that Sixers President Daryl Morey is a “liar.”

There’s a bit to unpack so let’s get into it.

First off, Bev puts out (multiple times) that it’s an unfortunate situation but he understands both sides here. It seems as if he’s doing his best to remain diplomatic, but cannot help but add some fuel to a potentially five-alarm-tampering fire for his new team.

Beverley: “I understand both sides, it’s just an unfortunate situation.”

Rone: I think that it comes down to the handshake agreement, and how much gravity you put on a handshake agreement, even Danny Green, a former Sixer, talked about it. And said ‘hey, you guys made this handshake agreement it should have held up.’ And I think the handshake agreement was [Harden] gets a max, y’know, five year deal, whatever it is, but I think Daryl Morey was probably [reluctant] to sign someone on to a contract that would be at such a high number in his age 39 season, and with the CBA being altered.... I think maybe he’s trying to protect the team and he’s trying to make tough deals but from James Harden’s perspective, if someone makes a handshake deal with you, you expect them to live up to their end of the handshake deal, but it seems like a handshake deal from Daryl Morey maybe doesn’t mean as much.”

So Rone, who is not employed by the Philadelphia 76ers like Beverley now is, has no issue lobbying the type of charge that:

  • the Sixers have definitively denied
  • the NBA has investigated and found no evidence of wrong doing regarding
  • and also the type of accusation that if a team is found guilty of committing (illegal negotiations), can cost a President his career and cost a franchise an absolutely devastating haul of future draft picks. Recall, the Minnesota Timberwolves were once docked FIVE future first round picks for the illegal agreement they were found to have made with former number one overall pick, Joe Smith.

So you might have expected Beverley to respond with some strong push back to such a salacious suggestion. But in my opinion, he didn’t opt for a true politically correct (from a team perspective) answer.

Beverley: “We weren’t in the room so we technically don’t know what was said and everything but — James Harden, he’s a very intelligent man. Like, let’s not forget that.... he’s a very intelligent business man he’s a very intelligent player. So, obviously him acting out like this, and him voicing his feelings —

Rone: Strategic.

Beverley: Yeah, I don’t think it’s coming from a bad place. I think he understands exactly what he’s doing. And like I said it’s a tough one ’cause I know both guys.... I understand both guys.... it’s just so many pieces that we’re not educated about. But we do know there was something in place that didn’t go down and one man feels some type of way which he’s entitled to feel that way. So I’m not here for the bad James Harden press at all. I’m not here for any of that because if I was promised some shit, I expect some shit in return also.... I hope I’m able to suit up and play with James Harden but from the way things are looking, [it’s] unfortunate.”

So Beverley says some things here that you just know the Sixers Public Relationships team is not going to be thrilled in hearing. His language that “we do know there was something in place that didn’t go down” certainly hints at what many reporters and fans are speculating, that Morey and Harden had some type of verbal agreement at one point in time that Harden would get a big payday this summer; one that clearly never materialized.

Beverley takes it one step further, dignifying the rumor, by adding “if I was promised some shit, I expect some shit.” Because you just know the 76ers would have preferred he simply shoot down the idea entirely, and remind everyone something along the lines of “the league looked into this preposterous notion and cleared our team of literally ANY wrong doing, etc.”

But that’s not where he took it at all.

His final thought above, that he hopes he’s able to play with James but things are looking “unfortunate,” isn’t groundbreaking. But it does hint that PatBev too may believe there isn’t a resolution here where Harden reenters the fold feeling motivated.

But wait, it gets even more juicy for all of you masochists who once watched a ten win team, devotedly:

Rone: “[James] has the anger of someone who was promised a bunch of money and now feels like they will not get that money. There is no other reason for you to speak in such absolute terms....

Beverley: .... I came to Philly hoping he would be here. It’s just an unfortunate situation. I’m all player though, like you know, if I agree on a handshake and I was supposed to get a bag, hell yeah I would be waiting on my bag. And if I don’t get my bag you f—n’ right I’mma feel some type of way..... but now if I’m a business man, and I own a team and I can get a guy to agree to some type of deal with a handshake, I don’t know, obviously we’re guessing right, we don’t know exactly what the conversations but if we were to guess and if I was an owner and management and I can — I got a certain guy for this number off a handshake and it don’t work out [then] ‘it ain’t personal it’s business’ type of vibe. But that’s why you don’t mix basketball and friendship. That’s what kind of takes the heart and soul out of it a little bit. Like I said, I understand both sides as a player....”

So let that sink in.

Beverley, a current player for the Sixers, is saying that if he were promised something illegally, and didn’t get it, he’d be really pissed. Again, he’s not shooting down or dismissing this hypothetical, he’s tackling it head on.

And next he says if he were the “owner” of a team, as a business man, if he could get a player to take less (remember Harden first asked out of Brooklyn, and then took a $15M pay cut by summer of 2022), we don’t know but “if we were to guess (what happened),” and PatBev was an owner, and the 2023 season didn’t go as he’d hoped, well, then his policy might also be something like “hey James, it’s not personal, it’s business,” and he too would feel tempted to renege on any prior handshake agreement.

For those of you who may not yet be moved, let me emphsize: this is crazy for a Sixers’ player to be talking about, lol. Like, I’m actually wondering if Morey is already deeply, deeply regretting this PatBev signing now.

But of course, it gets even weirder.

Beverley here brings us to the hint that perhaps Sixers team owner Josh Harris was involved more than has been discussed publicly by his use of the word “owner.” By concluding that Bev himself might also want to renege on a deal never put in writing if it didn’t work out, and reminding us this is a good lesson why you don’t “mix basketball and friendship,” he’s certainly contributing to (by not dismissing) speculation that his own Team President engaged in a potentially career ending, five future first-round pick docking, illegal negotiation.

Could he be not so subtly “guessing” that Morey used his long-standing friendship and relationship with Harden to kick an alleged max deal down the road, and then later the owner and business man Harris, (who let’s face it would be the man picking up the check on a Harden max) stepped in at the final hour to extricate the team from making what upper management would now feel was a big mistake in light of Harden’s bummer playoff finish, and in light of a brand new CBA featuring punitive measures for the highest spending teams?

Putting on my tinfoil hat and taking Beverley’s hints and running with them, I’d even guess that Josh Harris may well have been feeling a cash crunch around this time himself.

Right around the time the 76ers were preparing to close out the Boston Celtics, back in early May, heading back home to Philly with a 3-2 lead, a story broke that the 76ers and Fliers owner’s group bid to purchase the Washington Commanders had hit a snag.

Apparently, the NFL had serious questions about the amount of debt the buyers were accruing in order to finalize a record shattering $6B sale, and had questions about the unusual number of minority stake owners entering into the agreement as well, or something along those lines.

In short, it was expensive, it required lots of help from a Magic Johnson led group, and it was not yet over the finish line at the time. And the deal wouldn’t get there until July 20th, nearly one month after Harden opted in to his $35.6M player option.

Could the Sixers try some good cop bad cop here? Daryl could try to say ‘James, buddy, we go way back. I wanted to get you a deal like Fred VanVleet got, (basically a three-year max) but because of getting docked picks for talking early and tampering with P.J. and House last year, and because of people accusing us of these pay cut-max wink-wink handshake deals, I couldn’t make my intent clear to you in time illegally, risking more league investigations. So I went silent on you. Or maybe something like bad news man, Josh Harris is saying he won’t pay you the type of figures I wanted to give you and he’s really disappointed in how you finished the playoffs.... or something?

Our Erin Grugan explored the possibility put out there by Marc Stein via Substack, that the league could reopen an investigation into Harden’s “liar” claim.

Patrick Beverley may have been doing his best version of diplomacy, trying to see the situation from his boss’s and his friend’s point of view. But I think he inadvertently stirred up some more head aches for Sixers’ P.R.

Welcome to Liberty Ballers, where we cover wild tank jobs, broken feet, Scapular Dyskinesis, Thoracic Outlet, Yips, death-defying sesame allergy incidents, washed coaches lecturing us about why he’s playing the worst center in the league over Paul Reed, mental health holdouts, Twitter burners, asset depleting, owner-led, front office collaboratives, and now whatever the f—k this is.

I don’t think the Sixers were dumb enough to put anything illegal in writing. If they did, and Harden was sitting on smoking gun evidence, you’d think they’d have just [Teddy KGB voice] paid that man his money. I don’t know if they made any illegal promises. But Patrick Beverley seems content to throw out a few “if we’re guessing” hypotheticals that do little to dispel the notion and will assuredly ’cause headaches for his new team.

Precedent for a mental health holdout was set when Ben Simmons didn’t play for the Sixers but received an undisclosed settlement from ownership. We may learn how the league wants to handle another similar situation which also happens to be occurring right here in town.

Go Sixers! Always the Sixers!

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