76ers: Tyrese Maxey bluntly addresses James Harden trade saga

Tyrese Maxey spoke candidly about James Harden's trade request as the Philadelphia 76ers gear up for a tumultuous season.
James Harden, Tyrese Maxey, Philadelphia 76ers
James Harden, Tyrese Maxey, Philadelphia 76ers / Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers continue to avoid banality like the plague. James Harden demanded a trade after his free agent market collapsed. The Sixers said sure, we'll trade you, and then walked it back. Daryl Morey recently shut down trade talks with the intention of bringing Harden into camp.

Harden didn't like that. He called Morey "a liar" to a cheerful crowd in China and vowed never to play for Philadelphia again. While the nature of the new collective bargaining agreement could force Harden to show up eventually, he doesn't have to show up in good spirits.

As the Sixers dig their heels in for a long and uncomfortable standoff, fans can take solace in the familiarity of it all. No team is more acquainted with ludicrous internal conflict and roster turnover than the Sixers, who are not allowed to have a normal summer. The mysterious forces that be simply will not abide it.

In a recent episode of the 'Maxey on the Mic' Podcast, Tyrese Maxey spoke candidly about Harden's trade request: "It’s crazy to say this, but it’s not our first rodeo, honestly. That’s funny to say, but that’s life."

Tyrese Maxey comments on James Harden's Philadelphia 76ers trade request

That's life, indeed. The Sixers endured a strikingly similar bout of drama when Ben Simmons held out ahead of the 2021-22 season. That holdout led to the James Harden trade, and the irony is, Harden's trade value is even lower than Simmons' was.

Harden turned 34 years old on Saturday. He's in the final year of his contract (unlike Simmons) and he has forced his way off three teams in four years, which understandably makes prospective employers around the league wary. No matter how good Harden still is, the uncertainty around his contract and his fairweather personality is going to prevent the Sixers from getting anything close to top dollar.

For Maxey, it's all love for Harden the person.

"James is his own individual and he’s able to do whatever he pleases," he said. "I’m preparing right now to play with him or without him." And that's all the Sixers can do. There's no time to waste with Joel Embiid's prime window gradually closing. Maxey's not alone in his respect for Harden either. Unlike Simmons, everyone in the locker room likes Harden. He has a place where he is welcomed, even desired, but the Sixers clearly slighted him with their refusal to negotiate over the summer.

Philadelphia could have avoided all this with a simple four-year max contract offer, but Harden's age and declining performance level does add a worrisome level of risk to such an investment. Odds are, Harden will never get his one last mega-payday at this point. Even if he's traded, the market for Harden's services is lukewarm at best. No team is going to bid against themselves to pay 39-year-old Harden max money.

And yet, this is the fallout of Philadelphia's risk management. If Harden is traded, it will be for a player of less value. Even if the Sixers can flip whatever comes back for another star, it's probably for a player in the Zach LaVine tier. Harden, for all his faults, was a consensus top-20 NBA player last season. He led the league in assists (10.7) and averaged a very efficient 21.0 points, which is no small feat.

We can only wait and see what happens from here. No matter what, Maxey doesn't think the Sixers can afford to view the season as a "wash." It's still win at all costs, no matter the difficulty: "We have to go out there and expect to win. Expect to still try to complete our goal."

Next. 5 best trade destinations for James Harden. 5 best trade destinations for James Harden. dark