At 12:30 pm on Wednesday, May 17th, the President of Basketball Operations, Daryl Morey, addressed the media after a third straight second-round exit and the firing of Head Coach Doc Rivers. While most Sixers fans have no issue with Mr. Morey letting go of Doc, his obsession with James Harden concerns me for this franchise’s future.
It’s no secret that Daryl Morey discovered Harden’s potential; when the OKC Thunder, all the way back in 2011, thought he would’ve been much more served as a 6th man for the foreseeable future, Morey saw what he ended up with—one of, if not the greatest, offensive player in NBA history. So here’s a question: since James Harden joined the Sixers, has every move been about Joel Embiid, or has it been about Morey’s favorite player James Harden?
In the two offseasons so far, the Sixers acquired five players. Four of them are former Rockets who have experience playing with Harden and fit his style of not needing the ball in his hands; These players are Daniel House Jr, P.J. Tucker, Montrezzel Harrel, and Trevelin Queen. The only player, not a former Rocket, was De’Anthony Melton, who, in my opinion, fits Harden’s game better as a catch-and-shoot player. This doesn’t state that these players don’t fit Embiid’s style of play either; the ones that played (House, Tucker, Melton) all can stretch the floor with 3-point shooting and can defend at a high level. Yet, it’s Daryl Morey’s obsession with Harden that he had to acquire players who have played with James Harden instead of having an open mind and looking at other players outside.
That above is arguable, but the cause for concern is the power Harden seems to have on Morey, and this has been showcased right in front of our eyes over the last three days. It all started with these comments after the Sixers lost game seven as Harden said this about his relationship with Doc Rivers.
Reporter: "How is your relationship with Doc [Rivers] and would you like to see him back next season?"
James Harden: "Uh, our relationship is OK." 😬pic.twitter.com/Q2QzC2SEjI
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) May 14, 2023
Maybe just frustration after a disappointing game seven loss, but the next day Ramona Shelburne goes on 94 WHIP and has this to say
James Harden apparently doesn’t want to play for Doc Rivers, per @ramonashelburne
“Behind the scenes, from what I’m told, one person said to me it would be hard for me to see James wanting to come back and play for Doc again.”
— NBACentral (@TheNBACentral) May 15, 2023
And then this comes out…
Ramona says there were multiple team meetings where Doc tried to reign in Harden’s extracurricular activities when he wasn’t performing
But the main disagreement was that Harden basically doesn’t want to run an offense based around another player. No surprise.
— DFAntastic (@PhillyTradesman) May 16, 2023
So what happened the next day? Doc Rivers gets canned, and who is the reported favorite to be the Sixer’s next head coach? Mike D’antoni, who, of course, got the best out of James Harden when they were together in Houston. Again not saying Sixers fans shouldn’t be against the idea of having him as the next HC, but it’s worrisome that this is their automatic thought that he would be the best person for the job because of Harden.
The craziest part is during Morey’s press conference; this comes out
B/R Sources: James Harden to decline player option to seek 4-year deal, Ty Lue’s reps met with Clippers to discuss future, Suns likely to guarantee Chris Paul’s contract & Portland expected to make No. 3 pick available. Details inside. https://t.co/nLlgURyv0E
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) May 17, 2023
The article by Chris Haynes details that Harden wants a max deal and to play for a Head Coach that will make him the main focal point on offense.
It’s like Harden purposely letting everyone know exactly what he wants, and if he doesn’t get it, he will be gone.
Regardless of opinion, this is another example of star players who have not won anything having way too much power in this league; it is wild to me that it seems Morey is doing everything Harden asks while reports have said Joel Embiid has disliked almost every move Morey made during the season which included trading Matisse Thybulle and firing Doc Rivers. Not that Joel Embiid should be appeased all well, just that it seems Embiid hasn’t liked these moves that benefit Harden.
Now Harden has denied all these rumors when he posted this on social media after Doc got canned.
James Harden just posted this on his Instagram story 👀 pic.twitter.com/KWg1iClAOA
— Aidan LaPorta (@aidanlaporta69) May 17, 2023
In Houston, when Harden wanted Dwight Howard gone, he got his way. Then he didn’t get along with Chris Paul and wanted to play with his boy Russell Westbrook; he got his way. That lasted one season, and then he wanted out and requested a trade from Houston after ownership didn’t renew D’antoni’s and Morey’s contracts and got his way. In Brooklyn, he didn’t get along with Kyrie and wanted out, telling Morey, who did everything he wanted already, to come to get me, and he got his way. Two offseasons later, it seems Harden intends to play for Philadelphia Rockets.
It once again has Morey wrapped around his finger, or maybe we have watched Harden’s last game in a Sixers uniform unless the person who has given his wunderkind everything he ever asked finally says no.