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ESPN News ServicesAug 18, 2023, 08:24 AM ET3 Minute Read

James Harden’s comments on Daryl Morey start epic Stephen A.-Mad Dog clash

Stephen A. Smith returns to “First Take” for an epic debate with Chris “Mad Dog” Russo about James Harden’s recent comments on 76ers executive Daryl Morey.

Days after James Harden called 76ers president Daryl Morey a “liar,” the star guard maintained his position that there was no way back for him to stay in Philadelphia.

Asked by a KHOU 11 reporter in Houston on Thursday if he thought his relationship with the 76ers was beyond repair, Harden replied, “I think so.”

“I’ve been patient all summer,” Harden said of his situation with the team. “For me, it’s just focus on what I can control and getting ready for this season.”

His comments follow Monday’s at an Adidas media event in China, where Harden initially lashed out at Morey in public.

“Daryl Morey is a liar and I will never be a part of an organization that he’s a part of,” Harden said Monday. “Let me say that again: Daryl Morey is a liar and I will never be a part of an organization that he’s a part of.”

On Saturday, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that the 76ers planned to bring Harden back to training camp and for the start of the season, setting up an uncomfortable situation with the unhappy star.

The Sixers had periodic offseason conversations with the LA Clippers — Harden’s desired destination — but no traction on a deal materialized, sources said.

The Sixers agreed to search out a trade upon Harden’s request after he agreed to pick up his $35.6 million player option in June, but the Sixers’ asking price was steep, and no teams, including the Clippers, were willing or able to meet it, sources said.

Harden’s unhappiness with Morey stems over the lack of a long-term maximum-level contract offer, sources said, and the team risks the possibility of Harden’s arrival at training camp bringing anything but a championship mindset.

Harden, who led the league in assists this past season, was in Houston ahead of a charity event he is hosting this weekend. Harden spent eight-plus seasons in Houston with the Rockets, where Morey was the general manager at the time.

Harden, the 2018 NBA MVP, blossomed into a star with the Rockets — when Morey ran the team — until he wanted a trade to Brooklyn. The Rockets eventually agreed and shipped him to the Nets. When a Big Three championship run with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving never developed, Harden wanted a trade to the 76ers — in large part, because of his strong professional and personal ties with Morey.

Information from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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