A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about James Harden and posed the question, “Will he play nice?” Ultimately, he did for the most part. That brings us to this week, as Harden was finally traded to the Los Angeles Clippers. In a move that many saw coming, the Clippers gave up several role players, as well as a bevy of draft picks. The 76ers in return now have a bunch of cap flexibility and trade chips. Those will hopefully land them a dynamic wing player near the All-Star break.
But now that we have this deal squared away, I wanted to examine the nature of partnerships in the sports world, and where does one draw the line between personal and professional relationships? At the crux of this Harden issue, there’s dishonesty. Somebody’s lying, and if you ask Harden, it’s Daryl Morey, president of basketball operations for the 76ers.
Morey and Harden have worked together in the past as players and execs on the Houston Rockets. It’s been reported that they had a good working relationship. Over the years they built equity with one another, which is why Harden felt shafted by Morey when he went back on his word. According to reports, Harden was to be moved this summer via trade by the 76ers. Morey and his team never reached out to Harden and effectively “ghosted” him. This was the source of Harden’s frustration.
One could find Harden’s frustration justified. In fact, I think most of us could. Actually, I think Harden really would’ve never faced backlash if he didn’t have such a history of asking out of his contracts. This has been a third instance in Harden’s case. It makes me wonder if Harden’s approach to the business of basketball does more harm than good. I mean this in regard to NBA players at large.
In order for partnerships to work, there has to be trust. When so much money is on the line as it pertains to revenue and player contracts, that trust can sometimes be compromised. But if you’re a player of Harden’s caliber, who has found reason to break contracts on an almost yearly basis, how can any team trust him? I think that’s his plight for the rest of his career. Harden is the reigning assists champion in the NBA, who can still average 20 a night. However, his conduct, I think can negatively impact his earning power for the rest of his career.
For the record, Daryl Morey not keeping his word has also exacerbated this. It’s another example of why trust needs to be paramount on both sides of these dealings. Team governors are going to want assurances that the contracts they draw up have a higher likelihood of being honored. And when it comes to situations like Harden’s, I can completely understand why.
All is right in the world of Harden right now. But in the words of one of my favorite wrestlers “Sting,” the only thing sure about Harden, is that nothing is for sure.