James Harden is still making things messy for the Philadelphia 76ers, even after his trade to the Los Angeles Clippers.
The 10-time All-Star told Sam Amick of The Athletic that Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey had verbally committed to offering a max contract.
"Were you actually told by the Sixers that you had that deal coming?" Amick asked Harden directly.
"Yeah," the veteran guard responded succinctly before reiterating his answer when queried whether Morey himself had made the promise.
Harden added the conversation had occurred before the start of the 2023 playoffs. However, Amick spoke to a source with the Sixers who refuted the claim.
This perhaps provides more context for why Harden famously called Morey a "liar" in the offseason, a moment that made it clear he wasn't long for Philadelphia.
Granted, that would be at odds with the conclusion drawn by the NBA. When announcing the $100,000 fine levied against Harden, the league said Harden's anger stemmed from the fact the Sixers weren't granting his request for a trade.
Leaving that aside, emotions clearly remain raw on Harden's side. He told Amick the end of his partnership with Morey "surprised the hell out of me":
"We talked about a lot of s--t. And we've got a lot of s--t that, in front of people's eyes, you don't know or understand. But instead of (Morey) having a conversation with me (about free agency) or saying, 'All right James, we don't want to offer you this, but we have this.' Then we go back and forth, and that's a dialogue. But you just ice me out? Then it's like, you don't respect me as much as I thought you did. You don't need people like that, you know what I mean? So it's just bad karma. People were throwing dirt on my name, but the good guys always win."
Harden concluded his interview with Amick by saying he hasn't conversed with Morey since things broke down between them, citing "too much money, too much respect" that was lost.
Assuming the 2017-18 MVP's account and timeline are correct, having a change of heart after the postseason was an understandable—albeit very pragmatic—reaction from the front office's position.
Harden averaged 20.3 points and 8.3 assists in 11 games, and he combined to shoot 7-of-27 from the field in Philly's last two losses. Add that to how his performance more broadly was trending downward, and he's simply no longer a surefire max player.
The start to the 2023-24 campaign has only reinforced that with the Sixers sitting fourth in the Eastern Conference and the Clippers still under .500 despite his arrival.
Fans can argue over whether Morey handled the situation appropriately, but from the outset, his general position on Harden was justified and has only looked more sensible in retrospect.