While Wojnarowski doesn’t get into any specifics about what Philadelphia would want, it seems reasonable to assume that if they’re being asked to part with Simmons and draft picks, the 76ers would seek at least one more player from the Rockets — perhaps someone like P.J. Tucker. It doesn’t sound like Houston would be enthusiastic about that scenario though, per Wojnarowski, who says the Rockets will likely want Simmons “plus a bunch more assets” for just Harden. “You saw (Sixers president of basketball operations) Daryl Morey come out yesterday and say, ‘We’re not trading Ben Simmons,'” Wojnarowski said. “Well, I certainly don’t think they’re trading Ben Simmons just in a deal that looks like it’s straight up with some picks for James Harden. I think they’re going to want a lot more than James Harden. That might not be a deal that’s available to the Sixers.”
With all the drama swirling around James Harden and the Houston Rockets, it’s impossible not to talk about Harden, and whether the franchise will trade him. That apparently goes for play-by-play man Bill Worrell. During the Rockets’ preseason win over the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night, he watched as new addition Christian Wood took a rebound coast-to-coast for a score and shouted out, “Who needs James Harden?”
Do you think that's a problem that James Harden, the superstar player for the Houston Rockets has not yet talked to his GM? Zach Lowe: If it's true, it's a problem. I have actually heard that they have a pretty good relationship dating back years now. So I'm kind of surprised if that's the case. Maybe he just means he hasn't talked to him in the last week when he was, you know, MIA from camp and reporting and all that.
But if you thought the Bucks culture was picky, the Heat ecosystem is on a different level altogether. So when it comes to this question of whether Riles, longtime general manager Andy Elisburg and coach Erik Spoelstra might want to convert Harden into their world of discipline and dirty work, it’s safe to say there’s serious skepticism here from sources close to the situation. Especially considering Harden’s recent antics.
There was a time not so long ago when Giannis Antetokounmpo wasn’t comfortable recruiting other talents to come to town. But then, as we chronicled this week in our piece looking at his decision to sign the five-year supermax extension on Tuesday, that all changed. In this mini-offseason that just passed, he played a part in the Bucks’ pursuit of everyone from Jrue Holiday to Victor Oladipo to Bogdan Bogdanovic. So, is Harden now on that proverbial list? Bucks sources say no.
Harden, it seems, is not seen as a good fit for this Bucks culture that has been so carefully curated by Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, general manager Jon Horst, coach Mike Budenholzer and so many others. They are not expected to pursue him. And while no one can speak for Giannis in terms of his private view of Harden, there was plenty to ponder in the public domain already that suggested this would be a friction-filled superstar pairing…
Harden’s widely-reported dream of joining former teammate Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn seemed to make perfect Superteam sense when it was first revealed, but some rival executives who are tracking this situation closely have grown extremely skeptical of the Nets scenario ever transpiring. Irving, like Durant before him, downplayed the prospect of this happening during his media session on Monday.
The notion of a former MVP still in his prime being available would typically bring all 30 teams running, but the combination of Harden’s ball-dominant style, defensive reputation and personality appear to be tempering interest. Not to mention the fact that he spent the past eight seasons having his run of the place in Houston. “It just fucks up your whole organization,” said one high-ranking official from a team that has pondered the Harden possibility. “Harden is a terrific scorer, but not a champion,” said another front office executive. “He isn’t a two-way player and (he’s) hard to play with. …He is so used to getting his own way, I think there are concerns he can negatively affect a team’s culture.”
Ethan J. Skolnick: We can report at Five Reasons Sports — from multiple league sources — that the inclusion of Duncan Robinson is a major sticking point in the pursuit of Rockets guard James Harden. @5ReasonsSports @ClutchAdamNBA @GregSylvander
Shams Charania: The Philadelphia 76ers have made Ben Simmons available in some packages with the Houston Rockets for James Harden, sources tell @The Athletic @Stadium. Conversations aren't fluid as of now.
Several playoff-caliber teams in the Eastern and Western conferences tell ESPN that they're finding increased comfort in committing high-level trade assets in talks to acquire Harden. The Rockets have ongoing discussions on several fronts and have been communicating with Harden about those scenarios, sources said.
While the Sixers have signaled a willingness to include All-Star guard Ben Simmons in trade packages for Harden, those talks have come nowhere close to a deal, sources said. The Nets are limited by the Rockets' interest in their personnel, and likely would need a third team to emerge in talks, sources said. So far, the Rockets steep asking price of young players and pick hasn't moved any of their discussions into an advanced stage.
The notion of a former MVP still in his prime being available would typically bring all 30 teams running, but the combination of Harden’s ball-dominant style, defensive reputation and personality appear to be tempering interest. Not to mention the fact that he spent the past eight seasons having his run of the place in Houston.
“It just f---- up your whole organization,” said one high-ranking official from a team that has pondered the Harden possibility. “Harden is a terrific scorer, but not a champion,” said another front office executive. “He isn’t a two-way player and (he’s) hard to play with. …He is so used to getting his own way, I think there are concerns he can negatively affect a team’s culture.”
Harden’s widely-reported dream of joining former teammate Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn seemed to make perfect Superteam sense when it was first revealed, but some rival executives who are tracking this situation closely have grown extremely skeptical of the Nets scenario ever transpiring.
Yet even with all that relevant history, this is what matters even more in the moment on this front: Sources say the Sixers want to see what new coach Doc Rivers can do with this new roster and have no urgency to pay anything more than a discount-aisle price for Harden anytime soon. Translation: Two-time All-Star and third-team All-NBA selection Ben Simmons remains off-limits, and these next few weeks will be spent evaluating this revamped group.
History has shown us that no one ever really knows what Pat Riley is up to. That’s part of his genius, right? And as one interested executive put it, you can never put anything past him. But if you thought the Bucks culture was picky, the Heat ecosystem is on a different level altogether. So when it comes to this question of whether Riles, longtime general manager Andy Elisburg and coach Erik Spoelstra might want to convert Harden into their world of discipline and dirty work, it’s safe to say there’s serious skepticism here from sources close to the situation. Especially considering Harden’s recent antics.
Harden brushed off the suggestion that the trade rumors could be a distraction for the team. “Since I’ve been here there’s nothing that’s being said about it. … I’m just preparing for the season so that’s all that matters,” he said.
“If we exactly knew … where his head was, that I think would be good for everybody,” Silas said. “But we’re dealing in reality which is things change on a day-to-day basis. Things change on a game-by-game basis. And as I said before, my job is to coach this basketball team and make sure that the guys are put in the right position.”
Salman Ali: James Harden on what he was doing in Atlanta in Vegas during training camp: "I was just training." For what? "The start of the NBA season." Why in Atlanta and Vegas instead of Houston? "My personal trainers."
Melissa Rohlin: James Harden: "Right now, I'm just focused on being here."
But Houston has its heels dug in regarding Harden, refusing at this point to consider an offer unless it includes a young franchise cornerstone and a bundle of first-round picks and/or promising players on rookie deals. Sources say Harden, who had been singularly focused on trying to force his way to the Brooklyn Nets, has indicated to the Rockets that he would be agreeable to a trade to the 76ers or other select contenders.
Harden has pushed the Rockets to upgrade every offseason, saying he would want to be traded if they couldn't contend, sources said. And he had final say on things beyond just travel and practice schedules as well. He could call the shots on personnel moves, both on the roster and the coaching staff, a power he flexed to push for the firing of head coach Kevin McHale and departures of co-stars Dwight Howard and Chris Paul, sources said.
MULTIPLE ROCKETS OFFICIALS acknowledge that the entire organization has been "complicit" in the culture that has been created over the past eight years. "We knew who the boss of the organization was," a former Rockets assistant coach said. "That's just part of what the deal was when you go to Houston. The players, coaches, GM, owner all know. "I don't blame James. I blame the organization. It's not his fault. He did what they allowed him to do."
One of Paul's biggest beefs, sources said, was that Harden basically opted not to participate in the Rockets' offense when the ball wasn't in his hands, sometimes barely stepping over half court while spectating when Paul had the ball. Harden quickly tired of Paul barking about his concerns, which included lobbying coach Mike D'Antoni to implement more structure and movement in an offensive system that revolved around Harden's isolations, sources said.
Rockets management believed those issues could be ironed out and wanted to run it back with the Harden-Paul duo last season. Those plans changed as soon as Westbrook became available. Harden insisted the Rockets get the deal done, saying he'd demand a trade if they didn't find a way to bring his childhood friend and former OKC teammate to Houston, sources said. The Rockets paid a price that was considered steep at the time -- Paul, 2024 and 2026 first-round picks, and swap rights in 2021 and 2025.
Sources said Westbrook frequently expressed his displeasure during the season with not being able to "play my game," as he put it. There were questions about the Harden-Westbrook fit when they were pushing to play together again, including D'Antoni privately expressing his concerns, sources said.
Adrian Wojnarowski on James Harden: His focus remains on getting a trade out of Houston. And regardless of what John Wall has looked like or Boogie cousins early in the preseason, it's not going to impact his thinking. He's made that clear to the organization. Ramona Shelburne and I are told that that he's going to work with them here in the interim, until they find a trade, he's going to play, he's going to be there. He knows that if he becomes a problem with the team, it makes it harder to trade him because the team becomes limited perhaps in the kind of assets they can get back.
Adrian Wojnarowski: They have talked with the Sixers. But they've not gotten close to a deal with them. And listen, there are teams around the league who kicked the tires on it. But nobody who has kind of dove into this headfirst.
“I think you can now argue that Houston needs to hold tight until the offseason to move James because there will be far more competition for him,” one of the Western Conference executives told HoopsHype. “Contending teams that kept their powder dry plotting a run at Giannis and bad teams that can absorb him into a preponderance of cap space. I don’t see things changing significantly by the deadline, and the number is so hard to aggregate that good teams don’t really have enough fungible money. If they get to the deadline and are in contention, you are less likely to throw a bunch of deals at them to stack up to Harden.”
"At the end of the day, he's going to do what's best for him and the organization is going to do what's best for them also," said point guard John Wall (15 points, three assists), who expressed excitement about pairing with Harden after arriving in a trade for Russell Westbrook two weeks ago. "The most important thing is when we step on that floor, we step into practice, we're focusing ourselves on basketball. "I don't try to ask him about that because that's his personal business. All I worry about is what we can do to make this Rockets team the best that we can be while everybody is here and move forward with that."
Salman Ali: James Harden updates from @Adrian Wojnarowski: -Houston isn't interested in the Nets package for Harden -If Brooklyn wants Harden, they'd have to pursue a three-way deal to net Houston a blue chip prospect -Philadelphia remains the natural trading partner for Houston because of Ben Simmons pic.twitter.com/XuQP8WoSiX
Salman Ali: Woj on Rockets: “This organization has consulted with James Harden on everything for years. He’s had as much say as any star player in the league has had with how an organization is run, who his teammates were going to be, and that would’ve continued if he wanted to be there.” pic.twitter.com/vcTWlAMyPt
Where will James Harden be playing after the trade deadline? 1. Houston Rockets: 6 T2. Brooklyn Nets: 1 T2. Philadelphia 76ers: 1 While it's clear Harden would like to be traded, making a move is far easier said than done, at least in the eyes of rival scouts and executives. Harden's large contract -- and interest in extending that contract with only a handful of teams -- makes it difficult to match salaries, especially if the Rockets maintain their demands for a package of potential young stars and a boatload of future first-round picks.
Those factors together led most to say that despite current appearances, Harden won't be on the move anytime soon. "Who f---ing knows, man," an East exec said with a laugh. "I don't think he gets traded unless other teams get involved and there becomes a bidding war of sorts. Otherwise I think they just hold pat. They're not going to trade him for crap."
First-year Houston Rockets coach Stephen Silas said he had a "good conversation" with James Harden before the perennial All-Star's first practice of the season Monday, but they did not discuss Harden's reported desire to be traded. "You can ask him about his commitment and all that sort of thing," said Silas, who has not been in regular communication with Harden, saying recently that he had given the face of the franchise "space" as he pondered his future. "But we had a good conversation. He was locked in. He was asking good questions. He was bringing up good points. We had a good discussion."
"We talked basketball," Silas said. "I'm a basketball coach, and he's a basketball player. We talked hoop today. As far as his commitment to what we're doing basketball-wise, he was right there. As far as the rumors and all the other stuff I can't speak to, again, that's another question you'll have to ask of him."
The Nets have been involved in plenty of rumors -- particularly surrounding the trade availability of superstar James Harden. Brooklyn is reportedly atop Harden's wish list of preferred destinations. Irving said he and the Nets have tried to limit the outside noise. "There's no control that we have as players to manage what's being said in terms of rumor mills and what's being reported, so let's just leave it at that," Irving said. "James is a great player, we wish him well, and I just want him to be happy and secure in who he is as a man first. And then as a basketball player, whatever happens between those conversations is between them first."
Tim MacMahon: Stephen Silas says James Harden will play in tomorrow's preseason game. "We'll figure out the minutes tomorrow," Silas said.
Salman Ali: Silas on his conversation with Harden: "We talked basketball. I'm a basketball coach and he's a basketball player. As far as his commitment to what we were doing basketball-wise, he was right there."
Adam Spolane: Stephen Silas says James Harden and P.J. Tucker were both at practice and participated. "They were very good"
Michael C. Wright: Stephen Silas on James Harden: "We had a good conversation, and I'm just gonna leave it at that. He was asking good questions, he was bringing up good points. We had a good discussion."
Marc J. Spears: "I'm not sure. It's an interesting situation going on with that. I think the whole league is interested to see (what happens)," Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan on whether he expects to play against Rockets guard James Harden in a preseason game tomorrow.
Alex Schiffer: Irving asked about James Harden rumors: "That part of our business is going to be what it is...James is a great player and we wish him well." Adds players can't control the rumor mill when it comes to trades.
Yaron Weitzman: Re: Sixers-Harden negotiations: I'm told the Rockets have asked the Sixers for 3 first round picks in addition to Ben Simmons. As many others have reported, the Sixers so far have been unwilling to include Simmons in any proposals.
The arrival of John Wall has left All-NBA guard James Harden unmoved and uninterested in pursuing a new partnership, and the franchise star continues to push the Houston Rockets for a trade, sources told ESPN.
After making his Rockets preseason debut this weekend, Wall expressed hope that Harden might become excited about playing together with him in a backcourt -- a prospect that Harden is rejecting as he prepares to rejoin the team on Monday in practice, sources said. "I think me and James can be a heck of a combination," Wall told reporters after the Rockets 104-91 loss to the Chicago Bulls Sunday night. "I just hope we get the opportunity to get into the regular season and see how it goes." This isn't personal with Wall, and as one source tells ESPN, there's "no change" in Harden's desire for a fresh start elsewhere.
For now, the Sixers are unwilling to include All-Stars Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons in trades, and the Rockets are uninterested in a package primarily composed of the Nets' complementary players and draft picks, sources said. The Nets aren't interested in trading Kyrie Irving, nor have the Rockets expressed an interest in acquiring him, sources said. For starters, the Nets and Rockets would need to find a more palatable young player on a third team as part of a broader deal, sources said, and there's no indication that prospect has gained any traction in recent weeks.
After detouring to social engagements in Atlanta and Las Vegas prior to reporting late for training camp last week, Harden -- a league MVP and three-time NBA scoring champion -- has expressed to Rockets ownership and management his intention to be professional and engaged upon joining the team, sources said.
Houston Rockets All NBA guard James Harden’s interest in the Miami Heat as one of the teams that would appeal to him if he’s traded is mutual, according to a source briefed on the situation.
The Heat would have interest in Harden if the Rockets decide to trade him, according to the source. At this point, Houston has displayed no particular interest in granting his trade request.
The source said among key people inside the Heat, there is no significant internal opposition inside the Heat to pursuing a trade for Harden, an eight-time All Star and 2018 NBA MVP. There is substantial interest in Harden with at least two key Heat people.
But the source disputed any suggestion that Heat guard Tyler Herro would be untouchable in such a deal. Though the Heat loves Herro, the source advised against any conclusion that he wouldn’t necessarily be made available in a Harden deal if serious talks eventually happen.
The Miami Heat emerged as a potential trade partner with the Houston Rockets for James Harden and they may be able to make a better offer than the Brooklyn Nets due to the value of Tyler Herro. The Heat, however, would be unable to beat an offer from the Philadelphia 76ers if they ever decide to make Ben Simmons available. "Here's the bottom line," said Zach Lowe on his podcast. "I'm not sure any substantive talks have happened with any teams at this point. Let's just make that clear.
"I do think Tyler Herro as a single trade piece trumps anything the Nets can offer. Now, whether it trumps the Nets throwing every pick and every swap and doing the same thing they did for the Celtics except a better player in his prime, that's TBD. But Tyler Herro I think is a more valuable trade piece than Caris LeVert and anything else the Nets can offer. He's not more valuable than Ben Simmons. If and when that discussion happens, if that ever is a thing, I think the Heat are at a disadvantage in that sense."
Jonathan Feigen: Considering the long, tough rehabs, DeMarcus Cousins called it "a perfect night." “I think it was a good showing, whoever’s watching, whoever’s interested. It shows that it’s still a really good team here, regardless of the circumstances floating around the team right now."
David Hardisty: Cousins said regardless of what's been going on, the Rockets are still here. "It's still a really good team in place. It's a lot of talent. We're not rolling over because a few pieces are missing... Hopefully those pieces join us and we can continue to improve as a team."
Jonathan Feigen: John Wall: "We know what those guys can bring to our team and how much better they can make our team. We know what James can do, one of the best scorers you've ever seen. When you add those pieces to what we have now, I feel like we can be a very special team."
David Hardisty: PJ Tucker posts a story on Instagram with him and James Harden at a workout/practice. pic.twitter.com/FRQGou6eys
Marc Stein: The Rockets insist (for now) they will not trade Harden. The Sixers insist (for now) they will not trade Ben Simmons. But sources say the familiarity between the front offices can ultimately defuse any lingering tension from Daryl Morey's departure from Houston to Philadelphia.
NBA Central: Zach Lowe doesn’t believe the reports that Tyler Herro is 'off the table' for James Harden "No. Just no. If this ever becomes a thing, the Heat are having a hands on deck meeting to discuss it. Players like James Harden do not ever become available." (Via The Lowe Post) pic.twitter.com/Sy2eiufV1z
Ira Winderman: Jimmy Butler to ESPN's Rachel Nichols on James Harden, "There’s a lot of stuff always in the media. I think that he's a hell of player. I like the group we have. To tell you the truth, I just want the guy to be happy. That’s what life is about. That's what the game is about."
Hoop Central: James Harden being denied a trade from Houston is the first time he has been told “no” from the organization; “I was talking to a former Rockets staffer...And he said, “Yeah he’s going to act up, he’s never heard no before.” (via @espn_macmahon on “The Hoop Collective”)
Along with the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets, Houston Rockets star James Harden now also has the Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat among his preferred trade destinations, sources with knowledge have told The Athletic.
Harden is in Houston complying with the NBA’s coronavirus testing protocol, and sources close to the team and Harden expect the former league MVP to remain professional. The NBA ruled on Wednesday that Harden must register six negative coronavirus tests before practicing with the Rockets, a source said.
Harden has been non-communicative with the front office at times, sources say, but has maintained a dialogue with Rockets assistant coach John Lucas. He is expected to have a workout in front of Rockets personnel soon, according to sources.
Sources said the Rockets have no interest in a Nets offer, unless it would include either Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving.
Ryen Russillo: Now when it comes to Harden in the trade part of this, here's what I feel good about saying and that is I think the Simmons deal for Harden is there waiting for Houston. I think Philadelphia would do Simmons for harden yesterday.
All-Star James Harden wanted out of Houston as soon as the Rockets hired Stephen Silas as coach, a person familiar with the situation told USA TODAY Sports. The person requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the Rockets situation.
Multiple league sources have indicated to PhillyVoice that they believe Fertitta would not agree to deal Harden to Philadelphia specifically, with another suggesting the Sixers would have to pony up what would essentially be an extra "tax" to convince the Rockets to reunite Morey and Harden in another city. Teams are ultimately self-interested and will attempt to make whatever deal best helps their franchise, but you should never underestimate the stubbornness of a billionaire.
At the beginning of December a report from Shams Charania came that the Warriors had checked in on trading for Harden before the Klay Thompson Achilles injury had torpedoed the team’s offseason planning. “What was it? Probably Like two or three years ago? There was a rumor that LeBron was gonna leave Cleveland and come play for us,” Curry said, nearly laughing. “There’s all type of stuff that you hear. And that’s all part of the small world that is the NBA rumor circles and whatnot.” “Some of the stuff you kind of laugh at. Some of the stuff is just a part of the business but until anything happens in this league, you kinda just brush it off. It’s part of the nature of the business.”
Bobby Marks: I think with Harden, and we’ll wait and see what he has to say, but from the outside looking in, it is probably the worst case of player empowerment that I’ve ever seen in my 20 years with the Nets and five years in the media.
Bobby Marks: The Jrue Holiday trade to Milwaukee at least sets the bar from a draft standpoint when you’re getting three ones (first-round picks), two pick swaps, Eric Bledsoe and George Hill. If you’re Houston, you’re saying I’ve got Harden under contract for three years. Holiday could be a free agent next offseason. I’m getting double that. Does Brooklyn have double of that to offer? I don’t think they do. Is it Philadelphia? Does Ben Simmons become available here? Does that appeal to the Rockets?
The Rockets have known for years how important Harden’s legacy is to him and how badly he wants to win a championship. Westbrook’s arrival came off the backs of Harden’s belief that Paul wasn’t a suitable partner to lead the Rockets to a title, sources say. Prior to Houston’s flurry of offseason moves, Harden had told Houston that he didn’t see a realistic path to a title and would prefer to join Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn, sources say.
At the moment, the Sixers haven't had any serious trade talks involving Harden, according to ESPN's Tim MacMahon. And Sixers head coach Doc Rivers reassured that much on Tuesday afternoon following practice. "You're not hearing [trade rumors] from us," Rivers stated. "As long as you don't hear it from us, you should be very comfortable. We like our team, man. I'll tell you that team I just watched out there is pretty special. Those rumors -- none are coming from us."
Stefan Bondy: Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta on CNBC: “James Harden, I have all the respect in the world for. And James Harden wants to win a ring during his period as a basketball player. I think that’s wonderful that he’s going to do that and hopefully he’ll do it with the Houston Rockets.”
Marc Stein: Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta speaking on @CNBC after the team's various high-profile departures: "We've done nothing but gotten better in the offseason" Fertitta also says he knows James Harden wants to win a ring above all "and hopefully he’ll do it with the Houston Rockets"
July 4, 2022 | 5:27 am EDT Update
“The Lakers have yet, I’m told, to be aggressive in trying to put a deal together to get [Kyrie] from Brooklyn. That may come, that may evolve with time. But so far right now, there’s no traction really on deals with either Irving or Durant.” 🗣️ @wojespn
John Clark: I’m told despite reports, the Sixers are not pursuing Kyrie Irving I’m told there were discussions internally about Kyrie and other players, but the Sixers never entered into actual talks with Brooklyn As far as Kevin Durant, remember he has a big say in where he will wind up
Those who know Durant cite two primary factors: a rocky Nets season that ended in a first-round playoff sweep; and the franchise’s soured relationship with Irving, his close friend. Durant doesn’t see much hope for a revival under the circumstances, those sources say. And he’s unhappy that his friend is unhappy.
As one insider sympathetic to Durant noted, “Kyrie sabotaged everything,” but Durant is reacting more to the effects than the cause, and he now views the Nets as unsalvageable. “There’s no use in (him) taking sides when it’s all too far gone,” the person said. In essence, the Nets were right in principle, but wrong in practical terms, failing to understand that making Irving upset “was going to drive Kevin away.” It’s instructive to note that for all the chaos, all the havoc and all the stress, Durant still wants to play with Irving, according to league insiders.
Chris Fedor on Collin Sexton: The Dallas Mavericks have been rumored as a team that may have interest because they lost Jalen Brunson. They don’t have cap space. So it would have to be a sign-and-trade worked out with the Cavs. And I’m told that the Cavs are not very attracted to any of the pieces that Dallas would be willing to send back to them in a potential sign-and-trade.
The difference in the tax penalty — somewhere around $15 million extra in the immediate, a whole lot more throughout a longer-term deal — caused Lacob and the Warriors to balk. It stung several in the organization, per sources. They’d found Payton and grown to not only love the person but also understand the value of his unique skill set. It translated to winning. For the first time, they’d failed to retain one of their own due to an unwillingness to meet a financial demand.