NBA Daryl Morey investigation ends with James Harden fined $100k

The NBA's investigation into James Harden's public comments about Daryl Morey and the Philadelphia 76ers' front office led to a hefty punishment.
Daryl Morey, James Harden, Philadelphia 76ers
Daryl Morey, James Harden, Philadelphia 76ers / Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers' latest summer drama involves the very public trade request of James Harden, who last week called Daryl Morey "a liar" and vowed never to play for him again. The comment came after the Sixers reportedly shut down trade conversations with the intention of bringing Harden into training camp.

With rampant speculation about what Morey possibly could have lied about, the NBA launched an investigation into Harden's comments and the Sixers' notoriously shady front office dealings. Many assumed Harden was referencing a 'wink-wink deal' made last summer, when he took a pay cut to help the Sixers sign P.J. Tucker and Danuel House. The assumption was that Morey promised Harden a max contract in 2023, then balked.

During the league's investigation, however, Harden told league officials his comments simply referred to Morey's assurance that he would trade the All-Star point guard "quickly," only to later shut down trade talks.

The result? A $100K fine from the league office levied against Harden for a public trade request.

NBA fines James Harden for public comments about Philadelphia 76ers front office

This is a hefty fine, but James Harden's contract for next season is worth $35.6 million. This will hardly dissuade him from his pursuit of a new home. If anything, it will lead the guard to get craftier with his public pressure techniques. James Harden may not win championships, but he sure does win trade requests.

We are fast approaching an unstoppable force vs. immovable object scenario here. Harden has forced his way out of two different franchises already. He's notorious for showing up to camp out of shape and disinterested. He understands how to not try, how to cast a shadow over his franchise so vast that there is no choice but to trade him.

Then, in the opposite corner, there's Daryl Morey. He let Ben Simmons sit at home for months, waiting for the right moment to make the right trade. Whether Harden was ultimately the "right" trade is now up for debate, but Morey is comfortable with the uncomfortable. So long as he and franchise pillar Joel Embiid are on the same page, there's a good chance this drags deep into the regular season. Even if he and Joel Embiid aren't on the same page, that may not change Morey's approach.

By all indications, the Sixers have not changed their stance on bringing Harden into camp. If he refuses to show up and refuses service for over 30 days, he loses the ability to leave the Sixers by his own volition at season's end. That means Harden will eventually show up, and from there we can only speculate what might happen.

The Sixers can't afford another wasted season, but it's difficult to imagine a path forward that doesn't result in exactly that. Keep Harden around and there's no way the team comes together in time for a deep run. Trade him for scraps and the roster simply isn't good enough.

Rock, meet hard place. The Sixers might be screwed here, no matter how many times Harden gets fined.

dark. Next. 3 dark horse James Harden trades. 3 dark horse teams who should trade for James Harden