Details emerge on why 76ers star called Daryl Morey a liar as NBA continues investigation

James Harden publicly called Philadelphia 76ers general manager Daryl Morey “a liar” at a recent event in China, and now, we at least have some idea about why. As the NBA continues its probe into the drama in Philadelphia, Shams Charania is reporting that Harden told the league that his comments referred to his trade request earlier this offseason.

Harden said that Morey promised to trade him quickly following his decision to pick up his $35.6 million player option for next season, according to Charania.

Instead, the 76ers have now ceased trade discussions involving Harden and plan to keep him into the season. Morey has said on the record that he would only trade Harden for “either a very good player or something that we can turn into a very good player.” No such offer is known to have materialized, and discussions with the Los Angeles Clippers, Harden’s preferred destination, have seemingly gone nowhere.

Harden will turn 34 this offseason, and has now requested three trades since the 2020 offseason. He is coming off of yet another playoff disappointment and has never been known for his conditioning or defense. His trade value, for now, appears limited.

Notably, however, the NBA’s investigation was focused on whether or not the Harden situation involved any salary cap circumvention. Last offseason, Harden took a one-year deal with that $35.6 million player option in an effort to give the 76ers more flexibility to improve the roster around him. Rumors have suggested that the arrangement would eventually be followed up by a long-term contract this offseason, though there has been no credible reporting suggesting that Philadelphia made an illegal agreement with Harden about a future contract.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne have reported that Harden plans to report to Philadelphia’s training camp in September. Of course, Harden has never actually held out while seeking a trade. He has, however, displayed a history of playing poor basketball while awaiting a deal. He arrived at training camp for the 2020-21 season with the Houston Rockets late and visibly out of shape. In his final game with the Brooklyn Nets, he scored just four points in a loss to the Sacramento Kings.

Harden’s future in Philadelphia remains murky, but Morey’s history suggests that he will not make a poor deal just to get rid of Harden. He kept the disgruntled Ben Simmons for most of the 2021-22 season as he awaited a suitable trade. He eventually found one with Brooklyn that landed him Harden. That deal certainly didn’t come together quickly. Harden claims Morey promised him that this one would, but for now, it appears to be on hold until something changes.

Heat star Bam Adebayo criticizes NBA players who miss games due to load management

I don’t think we’ll be seeing Bam Adebayo sitting out games due to load management any time soon. The Miami Heat All-Star forward recently shared his opinion on players around the league who often miss games due to load management, and he’s certainly not a fan of the concept.

During an appearance on the “To Inspire” podcast, Adebayo shared why he doesn’t agree with load management.

“A lot of guys sitting, like load management, that kind of bothers me in a sense,” Adebayo said. “You have a lot of kids and parents who want to see you play. You have kids who probably come from the inner city, and their parents make a way to put them all the way up in the stands, and then for you to find out you’re not playing. And it’s because you feel like ‘I gotta load manage and be prepared, ready for this.’ I remember as a kid, I would’ve gave my last dollar and my foot to go see Kobe Bryant play. I know if I felt like that it’s a lot of other kids that felt like that.”

It’s not surprising Adebayo thinks that way about load management, because over his six years in the NBA he averages 70 games a season. He’s only played fewer than 60 games just once, and that was due to injury which forced him to miss a month-and-a-half. Adebayo also isn’t the only player who has spoken out in opposition of the practice, Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star guard Anthony Edwards also shared a similar opinion during All-Star Weekend in February.

However, load management often doesn’t come from a player necessarily wanting to sit out of a game, it’s typically a decision made by several parties including coaches, the training staff and player. Golden State Warriors MVP guard Stephen Curry shared back in January the misconception around load management when this debate was at its height.

“I campaign to play every game,” Curry said. “That’s the misconception about load management and how it goes. It’s never the player that’s saying, ‘Hey, I want to sit.’ For all those people worried about that part of our league and all that, it’s usually not the player that’s going to the training staff and saying, ‘Hey, I don’t have it tonight.’ It’s usually the other way around and there’s a lot of science involved.”

Kawhi Leonard is regularly criticized for load management, however he’s struggled with injuries for several years, so not playing every back-to-back game makes sense. The same goes for someone like LeBron James, who despite incredible durability for most of his career, has dealt with injuries in recent seasons. That’s resulted in James missing games due to load management so his body isn’t overworked during the regular season.

It’s admirable that Adebayo is thinking about the fans who could potentially miss their favorite player in action, but it’s not as if most guys want to just sit out. This might be one of those moments where once a player has been in the league for over a decade you start to see the value in trying to preserve your body in order to extend your career. So perhaps we’ll revisit this when Adebayo is in Year 15 and see what he thinks then.