What an offseason it’s been. Even for the Sixers, this one has really been something. The James Harden saga has taken yet another turn, as after reporting that an inquiry could happen, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski has now confirmed that the NBA has launched its inquiry into the Harden situation that’s been playing out this summer.
After Harden publicly called Daryl Morey a liar earlier this week, Wojnarowski has reported that the league is now looking into the matter to see exactly what Harden was referring to and what plans both parties had made for this offseason:
The league office is believed to be pursuing an understanding of whether Harden was portending a 2023-2024 hold out in violation of the league’s collective bargaining agreement — or had been referencing past contract discussions with the organization that might constitute salary cap circumvention, sources said.
Nevertheless, Harden has privately indicated that his public comments calling Morey a “liar” on Monday morning had only been a response to Morey ending trade discussions with an expectation that Harden would start the season with the Sixers, sources said.
Wojnarowski also noted that neither the Sixers or Harden would violate any NBA guidelines if the only “lie” or issue in question here is a trade not happening after an agreement was made following Harden opting into his player option.
The concern for the Sixers with this inquiry is whether they did make an agreement to give Harden a bigger contract this summer in exchange for him taking a pay cut last offseason. That kind of promise to work around the salary cap would be against league guidelines.
With this in mind, it is noteworthy that Harden is privately claiming that his “liar” remark was only about not getting the trade he wanted after opting in, rather than agreeing to any wink-wink future deal in exchange for his pay cut last year.
For whatever it’s worth, Wojnarowski added that the Sixers have denied ever promising an illegal future contract (although it’s not like they’re ever going to admit to it):
The Sixers have continued to deny the suggestion that the organization ever agreed upon an illegal future deal with Harden — nor agreed and reneged on it, sources said.
Well, we have ourselves another Sixersy offseason.
The drama never stops!