CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) — Philadelphia 76ers star James Harden remained steadfast that his fractured relationship with the front office can’t be repaired.
Harden has yet to play in the preseason. But he did attend training camp and continues to practice with the 76ers in the wake of the disgruntled guard’s trade demand.
Harden in June picked up his $35.6 million contract option for this season with the belief the team would try to trade him. He blasted team president Daryl Morey at a promotional event in China when no trade materialized, calling Morey a liar.
“It’s not even about this situation. This is life,” Harden told reporters Friday at team’s complex in New Jersey. “When you lose trust in someone, it’s like a marriage. When you lose trust in someone, you know what I mean? It’s pretty simple.”
Harden has been one of the league’s top players for the past decade, having won three scoring titles and the 2018 league MVP award. He led the league in assists last season.
Harden said he could try to play in the Sixers’ preseason finale on Friday against Atlanta. Harden was evasive about the status of his trade demand.
“You’ve got to talk to the front office about that,” he said. “I’ve just been here working my butt off. I love the game of basketball, so I’m just in the gym putting the work in. It’s all I can control.”
Part of Harden’s complaint stems from his belief he should have earned a long-term contract with the Sixers after last season. It never came, thus the trade demand.
“I wanted to be here and retire a Sixer, and the front office didn’t have that in their future plans,” he said. “It’s literally out of my control. It’s something I didn’t want to happen to be in this position.”
Harden is a 10-time All-Star but essentially forced his way with trades out of Houston and Brooklyn and now still seems intent on adding the Sixers to the list, saying he showed up in large part to meet certain contractual requirements. It appeared playing as the second option behind NBA MVP Joel Embiid and chasing a championship in Philly is no longer seriously on the table.
But he is still in uniform. And with him, the 76ers remain a threat under new coach Nick Nurse — though behind favorites Milwaukee and Boston — to emerge out of the East.
“I’m here putting work in. that’s all I can do. I work my butt off,” Harden said. “You can say whatever you wanna say about me, but you don’t get this far in this league without putting work in. That’s what I hang my hat on. So whenever things fail or things don’t go how you feel they should go, you just continue to work, and that’s it.”
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