It's hard to really know the true reason James Harden decided to drop a nuke on the Sixers and demand a trade. Maybe it was because Daryl Morey "lied" to him about trading him quickly only to then change course once there wasn't a good enough package out there. Maybe it was because deep down he knows the Sixers are cooked when it comes to contending, ignoring the fact that his own actual play is a reason why that might be the case. Maybe he just decided he wanted to live in LA. All of those things I could understand.
What I simply cannot understand is if the true reason for all these antics is actually what was brought to the table by Rachel Nichols
I mean there's having a lack of self awareness and then there's this. You know why the Sixers are Joel Embiid's show? Oh I dunno, maybe it's because he's the freaking MVP of the entire league? A guy who the franchise drafted and has gone through all the highs and lows with to the point where he's developed into an absolute monster who loves the Sixers and loves Philly? What did Harden think was the deal when he demanded he be traded to the Sixers? Did he not know Joel Embiid existed? Obviously, Embiid has his own playoff issues, but are we going to pretend Harden's aren't just as bad if not worse?
If he thinks of himself as a #1 option, well then how do you explain his 7-27 (1-11) performance with 10 TOs over the final 2 games of the Celts/Sixers series? OK cool he was really good for 2 of the 7 games, but in each loss, he went 2-14, 3-14, 4-16, and 3-11 with 15 total TOs. On what planet does that scream an aging 34 year old player is a #1 option who should be leading the show?
Not only that, but think of the team he's trying to force his way to!
Last time I checked, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George were pretty good players. If Harden ends up on that roster, he is not going to be leading the show. It's Kawhi's franchise and everyone knows it. You could make the case that he would be lower in the hierarchy as a Clipper than he is as a Sixer, which is why this is all so confusing. Not only is Harden no longer a #1 option type player (but he can still be effective when he tries), but he's trying to force his way to a team where he most certainly would not be the #1 option!
Look, I say all this as a guy who has loved watching Harden play dating back to our ASU days. He's a surefire first ballot HOFer and one of the greatest offensive talents in the history of the NBA. I don't see how that's debatable. But Father Time comes for us all and I'm not sure what else has to happen for Harden to realize that it's not 2017-2020. This version of Harden is not Houston Harden as evident not only by his production but his value across the league. If he were still that guy, he wouldn't be a Sixer right now. He'd have a legit market.
Of course, this wasn't always the case. There was a time when Harden was a #1 guy
but in 2023? No chance. The sooner he realizes that the better because if not, who knows how many years he's even going to have a spot in the league. Not only is nobody paying him $35M+ in free agency, but nobody is going to be looking to bring in a 34 year old Harden to be the pillar of their franchise. He's a piece at this stage of his career, and that's OK!
Sadly though, it doesn't seem like he's gotten the memo.