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when philadelphia 76ers president of basketball operations daryl morey contacted brooklyn nets general manager seanmarks on jan. On January 11, they began the usual jokes of basketball executives with a month to go before Thursday’s NBA trade deadline.
who do you like on our list? here’s who i like in yours.
Finally, Morey spoke about the true intention of his call.
“what about james?”
“james, who?” brands responded.
networks have two james: johnson and harden.
“no”, said marks flatly.
That exchange from four weeks ago represents the only direct communication between Morey and Marks this season, sources told espn. however brief the conversation, messages were being transmitted in each direction: the sixers were planning a manhunt for harden, and the networks had no intention of giving up.
nash as deadline approaches: networks that don’t deal harden
With three days to go before the trade deadline, this is where the dialogue has been held. yes, morey could still pick up the phone and call the brands this week. the sixers ownership group has a strong relationship with nets owner joe tsai, so communication can happen on that level as well.
For now, the lack of clarity centered on Harden’s intentions represents the pivot around which circumstances could change in the networks’ murky association with him. harden may become a free agent after this season, and while he has continued to tell his netmates, coaches and front office that he is committed to winning in brooklyn for the long haul, his actions on and off the court suggest a certain ambivalence.
harden hasn’t had an agent in several years, but does have a business manager, lorenzo mccloud. When Harden wanted to leave Houston before the 2020 season, he tasked agents Jason Ranne and Chafie Fields at Wasserman to work with the Houston Rockets and rival teams to facilitate a trade. they played a key role in getting them tough on the networks, and then the employment relationship ended in March 2021, the sources said.
once again, sources told espn, harden and his manager have been looking for an agent to partner with and handle the situation, whether it’s free agency, a trade to leave nets after the season, stay in a new contract or even a trade before Thursday’s deadline.
When Harden considered signing an extension last summer, he handled it the same way he had in his last two deals in Houston: discussing the pros and cons of different iterations of the contract with the National Football Players Association. basketball. that’s why he didn’t want to pay an agent’s commission; he was a superstar player who needed no negotiation. he could choose his preferred max contract from a menu in the same way someone else might choose an hmo plan.
Ultimately, Harden did not sign an extension with the Networks, and in late September, he told ESPN’s Malika Andrews that he was looking forward to becoming a free agent for the first time in his career. Before that, he insisted that he was focused on winning a championship with Brooklyn.
So far, the season hasn’t lived up to those expectations. kyrie irving’s covid-19 vaccination status has made him a part-timer in new york, kevin durant has been out for nearly a month with a knee injury, and brooklyn has dropped to seventh in the eastern conference after from a streak of eight consecutive losses.
Harden has sat out the last two games with a hamstring injury after a listless four-point performance in a loss to Sacramento last Wednesday.
Brooklyn is confident the injury is a legitimate roadblock to toughening up playing now — an MRI on Saturday confirmed there was strain — just as he’s confident in his word that he wants to stay with the franchise, sources said. /p>
Still, saying he’s engaged isn’t nearly as convincing as proving it, and that’s something harden has barely done lately. At times this season, Harden has played dispassionate and underwhelming basketball, perhaps injury-related in some cases, perhaps pouting in others.
harden’s private complaints about nets coaches, teammates and the organization have made their way throughout the league, but those who have worked with him in the past understand that this is how it works at hard times with him. Almost anyone who has spent any considerable time with Harden in the NBA admits that he is quick to blame others, and rarely himself.
nets leadership is confident the momentum of the season will shift once he returns during, perhaps after the all-star break, and the load eases on harden and irving. Durant has significant influence in the organization, but he doesn’t tell Tsai and mark what they need to do at the trade deadline, the sources said. durant still wants to get tough, sources said, but wants a committed toughen.
nets and sixers privately believe they each have significant influence when it comes to toughening up. The Sixers would want to offer a Spartan trade package beyond exiled star Ben Simmons because they believe the networks risk losing Harden for nothing in the summer. The networks would want a massive package beyond Simmons, because Philadelphia can’t acquire Harden without offloading significant talent and draft assets to create salary-cap space for free agency. The Sixers have $133 million on the books for the 2022-23 season, and creating the space to sign him would require offloading multiple players and draft picks.
“why would brooklyn accept anything less now than the assets it would cost philadelphia to get rid of the contracts and create the space this summer?” an nba gm asked espn.
The Sixers’ (32-21) strong play behind MVP candidate Joel Embiid appears to have reinforced his resolve to wait until he toughens up, if not at the trade deadline, then in the offseason. Because even as Harden tells the networks he wants to stay long-term, two people with significant history and relationships with him, Michael Rubin and Morey, a minority owner of the Sixers, believe Harden is interested in playing in Philadelphia, the sources said. sources.
These are high-stakes leverage games between teams, and flinching first can wipe out an advantage. three days until the nba trade deadline, and the question remains: does philadelphia make another call and really push the networks to consider surrendering james harden?