Things have become increasingly acrimonious between James Harden and the Philadelphia 76ers front office this summer, with the league now beginning an inquiry into the situation after Harden very publicly and emphatically called Daryl Morey a liar. Meanwhile, Sixers managing partner Josh Harris is the toast of the beltway after purchasing the Washington Commanders NFL franchise from much-reviled former owner Dan Snyder.
Unfortunately for Harris, while trying to enjoy his new white knight status prior to Monday’s Commanders-Ravens preseason game, he was asked about the hoops franchise that is probably giving him more of a headache. Here was Harris’ response to a question on the Harden situation, per The Athletic:
“Listen, we’re hard at work. I respect James. I want to, obviously, accommodate what he wants. At the same time, I have to think about a championship contending team, what we can get back. I’d love to convince him to stay. I understand that that’s not what he wants to do right now. I’m going to keep working to resolve it in a way that everyone can live with and is positive for everyone, whatever that resolution is…I respect him as a basketball player, and as a person. It’s back to, these are, you’re dealing with people, right? And you’ve got to be there. We’ll see where it comes out.”
Unlike someone like, for instance, Pat Beverley, there is zero spice in what Harris has to say here. The company line has been from the start that the team would love to have James back, and Harris does not deviate one iota here, while also acknowledging they would like to make the veteran guard happy if it aligns with the best interests of the team. It’s basically Public Relations 101.
I remain confused at how Harden feels he really a case here. He has the opportunity to become a free agent and go anywhere he wants, but instead accepts his player option to remain with the Sixers for one more season, but immediately demands a trade. You put on the golden handcuffs yourself, James. We’ll see how Operation Make Training Camp Miserable goes, but even player empowerment folks seem to be scratching their heads here.
Meanwhile, Harris’ Harden comments weren’t even his most newsworthy thing of the day, as a clip of Josh misreading a hand gesture from Joe Buck in the Monday Night Football broadcast booth went viral.
We’ve all been there in one way or another. I’m glad similar awkward social interactions of mine haven’t been caught on national television and then spread across the internet. Harris’ night would end better, as the Commanders defeated the Ravens on a last-minute field goal, 29-28, to snap Baltimore’s 24-game preseason winning streak. We’ll see you on October 1 when things actually count, Josh. Go Birds.