Marks and Morey talked, but there was no movement the r…

Marks and Morey talked, but there was no movement the rest of that Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. Finally, Tsai called Harris. “[They’re] pretty good friends, friendly with each other,” said a source, calling them “partners in this business called the NBA.” Harris was told if the 76ers were serious about a Simmons package to make sure Morey came back with an offer that topped the one they viewed as “sub-optimal.”

More on James Harden Trade?

Marks called Tsai, who reached out directly to FaceTime with Harden. He pressed Harden on whether he wanted to be traded. “He didn’t say directly I want out, but he basically was disgruntled, he was unhappy,” said a source familiar with the situation.
Let’s talk Brooklyn for a second, how would you sum up your short stint in Brooklyn? 
James Harden: Uh, it was a lot of ups and downs. I appreciate the Nets and the city for what they’ve done for me in that year and a half. This is a business and for me, I think my happiness is the most important thing so I had to make the best decision for myself and for my family. But yea, I appreciated the time in Brooklyn.  Do the “what if everyone was healthy” thoughts linger in your head? 
James Harden: Yea I think everybody thinks that. Everybody thinks about ‘what if, what if, what if’ but in reality, things don’t work off what if.
There’s been a lot of narratives out there lately with what has gone on the past couple years, do you feel like you have something to prove this postseason in Philly? 
James Harden: No, I don’t. I don’t. For me personally, I always want to go out there and play well and contribute in whatever way I need to contribute but for me, it’s going out there and playing my game, trying to help my team win. I don’t feel any pressure, I don’t feel any of that.  So when you see people like Ty Lue comment that you wouldn’t be a Top 10 scorer without free throws, do you just laugh at stuff like that? 
James Harden: I don’t even pay attention to it. Free throws are a part of the game. You look at who leads the league, Joel and Giannis, what about if you take away their free throws? I don’t understand what that comment meant. Free throws are a part of the game. It’s on the defense to have discipline and not foul. That’s what coaches should be teaching their players. For me I don’t pay attention to it, I just try to go out there and make an impact on the game in a positive way every night.
Kevin Durant’s relationship with James Harden began to blossom again. They went on a trip to Greece this past summer, and the guard twice reassured Durant that he’d sign an extension to stay in Brooklyn long term, according to league sources.
Brian Lewis: Kyrie: "If thats what James wanted I respect his decision...I wish him nothing but peace and love. We have a great friendship but it didnt work out. Wish things could've been communicated better for all of us as men; but hey, no hard feelings here with me or anything else." #Nets
“It’s definitely new,” Dirk Nowitzki said on SI’s Crossover podcast. “We always felt like we the players didn’t have enough power at the beginning of my career (in 1998), and the owners had all the power, could make all the moves. And now it’s almost shifting like a little bit too much. I think there should be like a happy medium. But now the players forcing themselves out, to me is not the way to go, either.”
The final verdict on the Philadelphia 76ers trade for James Harden won't come for months -- maybe even years. Until then, every moment Harden and Philadelphia's MVP-frontrunner Joel Embiid spend on the court together will be something of a Rohrsarch test. Some will see chemistry, others calamity -- sometimes both will be visible in the same game. There was plenty to glean from Harden's debut for the Sixers Friday night in a 133-102 blowout win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. But the enduring image from this night, the one that jumps out from behind The Beard, was the bright smile on Harden's face. "[I'm] extremely happy," Harden said postgame. "Extremely happy."
Friday night Harden paid off that trust -- and then some. He finished with an efficient 27 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds, hitting 7-of-12 from the floor and 5-of-7 from behind the arc. According to Second Spectrum, the Sixers averaged 1.58 points off of Harden's touches -- the second-best mark of any Harden team in a game in which he had at least 20 touches in the last eight seasons. "I think it's like anyone with a new group," Morey said. "You realize you're the new guy. You want to fit in and then show what you can do. Everyone has watched James play for many years and knows what he's capable of. "When you're getting to know new teammates, I think those early interactions help. Early play on the court really helps."
Second in the NBA this season with an average of 10.2 assists, Harden seemed content to try to get his teammates involved more than look for his own scoring opportunities. Perhaps his best assist was a no-look pass to a cutting Tyrese Maxey for a layup midway through the second quarter. "I can be a playmaker," Harden said. "I can be a scorer (and) just take the shots when I need to."
[Highlight] Embiid on Harden debut: “You should’ve seen my face every single time, especially in the fourth quarter...that was probably the most wide open I’ve ever been in my career. I used to have to work for everything…never had this, nothing close to it. I think we can be way better than that.”
Marc Stein: James Harden says at his introductory press conference had landing in Philadelphia was his "first choice" last season when Houston dealt him to Brooklyn instead.
By Thursday morning, Durant dialed Nets general manager Sean Marks, sources said. While Durant had initially resisted swapping Harden for Simmons, Harden had finally forced his hand. Brooklyn's spiral of losses and Harden's freelancing behavior created an untenable situation. "Kevin's the one that pulled the trigger with this," another source with knowledge of the situation said. "Kevin's the one that said, 'Do this deal.' There was growing concern that this entire season would be lost and then they'd lose James for nothing."
After posting an emphatic 37-point triple-double on 13-of-24 shooting at the San Antonio Spurs on Jan. 21, Harden left the team for Houston and a night of clubbing, B/R has learned. He rejoined the traveling party in Minnesota for a Jan. 23 game against the Timberwolves and scored just 13 points on 13 attempts.
Shams Charania on James Harden: He has a game in Sacramento where I think it's fair to say there where people were within that locker within those confines wondering that, "Did he just quit on us?" And then he misses multiple games for a hamstring injury when, you know, there was no sign of a hamstring injury. There was a sign of the hand injury but there was no hamstring.
In a misguided attempt to protect his reputation, Harden reportedly tried to avoid requesting a trade. Yet, he couldn’t help but make abundantly clear he wanted to leave. Eventually, Harden reportedly requested a trade from Nets owner Joe Tsai and general manager Sean Marks – then got dealt to the 76ers. What did Harden say in the end about why he actually wanted out? Marks: There’s a lot of those conversations that obviously have to remain private, as you would expect and everybody understands. And if James wants to allude to those decisions and speak for himself, obviously, totally happy for him to do that. James has been upfront from day one with, you know, the clock is ticking for him. He wants to win a championship. And we do too. And if he feels like this was not the right place to win a championship and we felt like we could continue with our goals of being that last team standing by making a trade, that’s why we made the deal.
"James doesn't have to explain anything to anybody," Durant said before the game Saturday against the Miami Heat. "He's his own man. He makes his decisions on his career by himself. He doesn't owe anybody an explanation, and I wasn't looking for one. "I'm just glad that we got this thing done and now we're able to move forward and get some of this noise away, and I'm sure he would feel the same way. But from around our team and around our group, there's noise about what may happen. So I'm glad we can push through that."
"I think once a person gets to that decision of 'I'm unhappy,' I think he's gone through a lot of steps to get there," Durant said. "So no matter what I say or try to convince someone -- I'm not saying I did this, but this is just my theory on this -- no matter what I say or do to try to convince someone to change their mood from being unhappy to happy, I think that's when I'm pretty late to the party. "He's made his decision. I'm sure people make their decision before they get to that mode of being unhappy. I didn't have any conversations with James up until then. I thought everything was solid. I don't do any convincing. I'm sure you make those choices and decisions on your own as an individual. Me as a friend, I just have to accept it."
Beyond the rampant skepticism about the severity of his latest hamstring injury, on top of the ever-present questions about his substandard conditioning and how much it contributed to his unending hamstring troubles as a Net, Harden has been a brooding presence for months.  League sources say there were times before Durant's injury that the two stars, for reasons unclear, were hardly communicating — followed by the chaos of the past few Durant-less weeks when Harden stopped connecting with anyone to passive-aggressively convey he no longer wanted to be there.
 But there are teams out there — I’ve heard from a few already — that believe owners and league officials are determined to explore the feasibility of working new salary sanctions into the next collective bargaining agreement to dissuade another highly compensated player from taking Harden’s lead and essentially going on strike, like he just did twice in a span of 13 months in Houston and Brooklyn, to force his way to a new team.
Brooklyn, furthermore, has thus far downplayed its interest in pushing the league office to investigate Philadelphia for tampering charges, given Harden’s well-chronicled closeness to Morey and Sixers minority owner Michael Rubin, but that’s a topic sure to come up again (and again).
Rich Hoffman: Joel Embiid: "I mean, he's James Harden." "Sucks to lose some of my teammates. Seth did such a great job for us and Drum was as good as any backups we've had in Philly since I've been here. Sucks to lose them but it's James Harden, one of the best players in the league, MVP."
Gina Mizell: Joel Embiid on the end of the Simmons saga: "I honestly don’t care, honestly. Like I always said, it's unfortunate how everything happened. ... Obviously, we didn't get it done as far as winning in the playoffs. ...
Kyle Neubeck: Embiid says he and Harden have already chatted and both guys are excited to get going. Says he’s the best player he’s had the chance to play with so far in his career
Tom Moore: #Sixers center Joel Embiid: ‘It’s exciting’ to have James Harden as a teammate:
Relationships with NBA stars can be delicate, but rarely are they mysterious. Little stays a secret within the NBA community, and Harden was quickly hedging on his future with the Nets, sources said. He kept telling Tsai and Marks he wanted to stay long term, but simultaneously started canvassing player agents for advice on an eventual exit strategy to Philadelphia.
Marks and Tsai spoke to Harden often, but he didn't provide them the counter information he had been feeding to those outside the organization. "Don't believe any of the rumors," Harden would tell them. "If there's a problem, you'll hear from me directly."
Harden told them he understood, and they agreed he wouldn't play until after Thursday's trade deadline. Harden had checked out on the organization, a reality made clearer when Harden informed them that he was returning to Houston on Wednesday to wait out the deadline, sources said. The Nets were traveling to Washington having lost their ninth game in a row.
Meanwhile, the trade deadline was inching closer. Morey made it known that he’d be interested in a Harden-for-Simmons swap. In public, the Nets claimed they weren’t entertaining any deals for Harden, but in private, according to sources, the two sides started negotiating around the beginning of February. The Nets knew that Harden wanted to leave in the offseason, preferably for the Sixers, and that the Sixers wanted him. They just didn’t want the news becoming public. "I don’t need this stuff affecting our locker room," Nets general manager Sean Marks told an associate this week.
Brand told Harris he didn’t think the Sixers needed to bring in someone else, that he was confident in himself and his group. But, he added, after more than 20 championship-less NBA seasons, both as a player and as an executive, what he wanted most was to win a title, and also, he’d actually gotten to know Morey in the bubble — they had lunch one day and sat next to each other during a Sixers-Rockets game — and Brand believed Morey could help both him and the organization. "If you can get that type of guy," Brand told Harris, "you gotta do it."
Morey and Rivers had also been colleagues in Boston for about 18 months, and Rivers’ son, Austin, had spent two seasons playing for Morey’s Rockets, an arrangement that came together after Doc sold Morey on Austin’s ability. Morey wanted Rivers to be the Rockets’ next coach and believed Rivers was interested in the job. Rivers was scheduled to meet with the Sixers on Friday in Philadelphia and then travel to Houston on Sunday to talk with the Rockets.
“Morey went out of his way to connect with Embiid early on," a source close to Embiid said. The two FaceTimed the day of Morey’s introductory news conference. They played tennis together. Embiid, for his part, was eager to accept the role Morey was offering, even asking Morey to lunch. "[Embiid] has a real interest in the salary cap and team-building strategies," the source close to Embiid said. "And he really enjoyed talking to Daryl about all of that stuff."
James Harden may officially be a 76er, but his debut will have to wait. The newly acquired superstar guard will not play Friday against the Oklahoma City Thunder or Saturday against the Cleveland Cavaliers, as he is expected to arrive in Philadelphia this weekend and get looked over by the team's medical personnel.
Vincent Goodwill: I think what was the turning point here... And I never tell you anything that's not coming from an educated and informed place. I think the reason James Harden started acting up was the moment the Nets let Kyrie Irving come back. Chris Haynes: Okay, that's not the first I've heard that. I've heard of that.
So why would James Harden want to break that up? Well, part of the reason was reportedly Kyrie Irving, according to The Athletic’s Joe Vardon. The two did not seem to get along, per Vardon’s reporting. And things came to a head, particularly, when Irving chose not to get the COVID-19 vaccine and missed games because of it. “Harden has said publicly he was frustrated the Nets weren’t playing better. He saw how much the Nets need Irving on the court, all the time, and did the math on how nuts that would be to play home playoff games without Irving, even though Irving isn’t hurt… “I’mma give him the shot,” Harden once joked of Irving. Now that seems like less of a joke.”
Later on Friday, NBA Insider Chris Haynes provided more insight into the inner workings of the deal on Harden and his manager’s side. “I don’t know if they knew for sure (he’d get traded), but obviously they knew thing were in the works for a few days now,” he told NBA on TNT. “I was around this Nets team for the last few weeks. They kept downplaying the fact that Harden didn’t want to leave, even though everyone was feeling otherwise. “That was a talking point that they were trying to relay to everybody and downplaying all the hooplah that was coming out. “But it was serious hooplah. James did want out, he just didn’t feel the fit was right for his talents at that time. He felt like this is the best move for him and his career at this time.”
Chris Haynes: James Harden plans to wear the No. 1 jersey for the Philadelphia 76ers, league sources tell @YahooSports. No. 13 is Wilt Chamberlain’s retired number.
Ben Golliver: Nets' Kevin Durant on James Harden trade on TNT: "I'm excited for our team & looking forward to finishing the season out with this new group... The playoffs are right around the corner & we've got to fast track and get used to each other. I think everybody got what they wanted."
Morey has been seeking another star to play alongside MVP frontrunner Joel Embiid for months. Not known for his defense, the 6-foot-5 Harden becomes the best offensive sidekick in Embiid's six seasons as an NBA player. Embiid, who leads the league with a 29.4-point average, and Harden (22.5) become the No. 2 scoring duo in the NBA, just behind the Bulls' DeMar DeRozan (27.4 points) and Zach LaVine (24.9).
Ian Begley: People in touch with BKN on Thursday morning said club was comfortable with keeping James Harden on roster post-trade deadline if PHI didn’t meet its asking price. BKN wanted Matisse Thybulle, didn’t get him but found deal they liked to send Harden to PHI:
Jonathan Feigen: Heard last night that five or six teams needed to wait for the Simmons-Harden deal to make their own deals. Could be many coming in now, (Don't think Boston-San Antonio was dependent on Brooklyn-Philly.)
Adrian Wojnarowski: The Nets will get the Sixers' 2022 first-round pick unprotected with a right to defer until 2023 and a 2027 first-round pick protected 1-to-8, sources tell ESPN. The 2027 pick would roll over to 2028 protected 1-to-8 again. The pick turns into two seconds and $2M in 2029.
Adam Spolane: Kendrick Perkins just said on ESPN that James Harden and Kevin Durant didn't speak "for years" after Durant chose to sign with Golden State. Harden tried to recruit Durant to Houston after the 41-41 2016 season and he didn't even take a meeting with the Rockets
Keith Pompey: According to sources, the #Sixers are refusing to put Matisse Thybulle in the deal with the #BrooklynNets for James Harden. That's the hold up. All other issue are agreed upon.
Jake Fischer: Brooklyn has called rival teams gauging trade interest in Matisse Thybulle, sources said, in the scenario the Nets are able to acquire the swingman from Philadelphia.
Ian Begley: In addition to the Matisse Thybulle element, source with knowledge of the PHI-BKN dynamic says Sixers have been open to including draft compensation in talks centered around James Harden deal.
Frank Isola: Ben Simmons, Seth Curry a first and a second round pick is the Sixers offer, according to a source. The addition of Matisse Thybulle could get it done.
League sources have said Sixers and Brooklyn Nets are willing to swap the key pieces — the Sixers’ Ben Simmons for the Nets’ James Harden. However, the trade discussions are on the pieces that will be added to a potential deal.
Kristian Winfield: Woj: "James Harden wants a trade to the 76ers, I'm told. He has not told the Nets specifically that. He has a lot of trepidation about the idea of asking out of 2 teams in (back-to-back seasons)."
“There was a hangup trying to figure out what happened with Simmons before other deals happened. When Harden came on the board, to whatever extent he did, I think a lot of teams that were interested went other directions because clearly, the Sixers were going to focus on that,” one source whose team had explored a Simmons trade said this week.
Nick Friedell: Nash says that Harden and Aldridge stayed home to rehab. He does not expect them to play in Miami on Saturday.
Bobby Marks: James Harden said it was "not about the money" when he did not sign an extension. If he is not traded by 3PM ET, we will find out if that is correct. The cap space route for Philly would cost Harden between $70-$100M plus diminish a roster that he would be signing with.
Although Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden wants a trade to the Philadelphia 76ers, he has resisted making that formal request out of fear of the public backlash that would come with asking out of a second franchise in consecutive seasons, sources told ESPN.
Harden is hopeful that 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey secures a trade for him prior to Thursday's 3 p.m. ET NBA trade deadline, but Morey and Nets general manager Sean Marks have yet to become engaged in serious dialogue on a deal, sources said. There's still an expectation that the sides will communicate Thursday and the possibility of a deal remains, but both teams are left measuring the risk-reward of a Harden deal, sources said.
Stephen A. Smith on James Harden: What we know is... from what the people that I've spoken to... he wants out of Brooklyn, he does not want to be there. Now he hasn't completely gone nuclear the way that he did in Houston, where he's showing up late or refusing to show up at all, or what have you. One executive described it to me as him being at a 60% level
Stephen A. Smith: The reason why the Nets have held off on it, according to my sources, is that Kevin Durant chimed in and said, "Excuse me, I'm supposed to be back after the all star break."
Harden, who will miss a third straight game Thursday against the Wizards, rejected a three-year, $161 million extension before the season with an eye toward free agency this summer. Sources have told The Post that some inside the Nets have taken note of his grumblings, so it’s easy to see why they have been willing to talk about potential deals.
My best sense on the James Harden front is that there is indeed a steep price at which the Nets would reluctantly consent to surrender on Deadline Day and accept a trade offer from the 76ers now rather than run the risk at season’s end that Philadelphia manages to create enough salary-cap space to sign Harden away outright in the offseason.
Adrian Wojnarowski: "I think Brooklyn is prepared for the idea that they'll just treat James Harden, if his plans are to leave, treat it like Toronto did Kawhi Leonard. And say 'this is probably a one shot deal. We want to win a championship. Our best chance is to do that.' Who knows what happens when Harden gets back with Kevin Durant. They start playing together again the way they had planned to from the beginning. They've been separated because of the injuries.
A source said as of Wednesday afternoon, a deal isn’t as close to being finalized as people think. The Nets and Sixers engaged in informal trade discussions Tuesday and, according to sources, bickered over pieces to add to a potential deal.
Sources have said it’s Harden or bust for the Sixers. At the root of that stance is Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey’s affinity for Harden from their time together with the Houston Rockets.
One league source said the Sixers are unwilling to part ways with their young stars, Thybulle and second-year point guard Tyrese Maxey.
Storyline: James Harden Trade?
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June 25, 2022 | 8:58 pm EDT Update
“Listen we still run that franchise [Magic]. If they wanna sell it to us, DeVos family, we’re ready to go right now,” O’Neal said on The Big Podcast. “This message go out to the DeVos family, if you’re ready to sell Orlando Magic, sell it to somebody who’s gonna take it to the next level, that’s us. D[ennis] Scott and then, D Scott can pick everybody else. Smart people combined with common sense people and people that’s been there before, you can’t go wrong.”
June 25, 2022 | 7:06 pm EDT Update
“Their continuity wasn’t there,” Perkins said on a recent appearance on JJ Redick’s The Old Man & the Three podcast (h/t Lee Tran of Fadeaway World) about Westbrook and Durant. “No matter how much they tried to fake it to the public, their brotherhood, it never was a brotherhood. And that’s okay, right, because you don’t have to be somebody’s brother to go out there and win a championship. But it helps. They never just got on the same page.