- Harden's trade controversy highlights the potential for one team to hoard talent and dominate the league, leaving other franchises struggling to attract star players and dampening competition.
- Harden's public criticism of Morey sets a dangerous precedent where players could openly challenge their team officials, undermining the authority and professionalism of front offices.
- If Philadelphia 76ers caves to Harden's demands, they will lose money by allowing trade demands, reinforcing the idea that star players hold more power than franchises and negatively impacting the league's finances.
The biggest highlight of the 2023 offseason is actually a low-light. James Harden and the Philadelphia 76ers have been embroiled in a massive drama, and it’s not looking good for the overall state of the NBA.
For those who missed it, Harden called out Daryl Morey for being a “liar” due to the Sixers president’s failure to fulfill his alleged promise to trade him. The Beard even went as far as saying that he doesn’t want to be part of any organization with him on it.
Many fans have argued that what Harden did is an absolute abuse of player empowerment, and it is bound to have negative effects on the league. With that being said, we explore the reasons why this James Harden trade controversy isn’t a good thing at all for the NBA as a whole.
5 The balance of power around the NBA is disrupted
It isn’t really fair for one team in the NBA to hoard all the talented guys and have them all play together. This creates a sense of imbalance around the league as the franchise with the most stars will most likely cruise to a string of championships down the road.
Harden’s demand to be traded to the Los Angeles Clippers after opting into the final year of his contract strengthens that sense of imbalance that can derail most teams in the NBA. If the All-Star guard succeeds in having his way, more and more players will come together as part of a championship-contending team, leaving other franchises in the dust.
If that happens, expect teams with little power to attract stars to be at the bottom for years. Worse, that will kill off any excitement or competition in the NBA, leading revenues to take a deep plunge.
4 Deteriorates the level of respect afforded to a team’s officials
Over the summer, Harden kept faith that even if he opted into his contract with the Sixers, the front office would still trade him to the Clippers. This involved negotiating with the Western Conference team, finding a middle ground on what both franchises want, and eventually, sending the 10-time All-Star to the City of Angels.
When that negotiation broke down between the two teams, Harden publicly called Morey a liar, igniting a new wave of tension and drama in the NBA. A few days after, the league slapped the current Sixers star with a $100,000 fine for his allegations against Morey.
Even if that’s the case, Harden’s decision to call Morey a liar has already been made public. If left unchecked, players from all over the NBA will be empowered to go against their team officials outside the court and create unnecessary tension in the process. It won’t be long before the individuals who are going to run the franchise will be the stars themselves, and not the officials tasked for the job they were appointed to.
James Harden's Total Points and Average Per Team
James Harden's Total Points and Average Per Team
Oklahoma City Thunder
3 Franchises lose money over players not honoring their contracts
In recent years, the salary cap has allowed teams to reward talented players to earn generational wealth that will take care of their families. The thing is, most of these max-contract stars don’t really return the money invested in them by their respective franchises.
Things will take a turn for the worse if Harden’s trade demand is satisfied by Philadelphia. Apart from reinforcing the idea that stars have more power than front offices, the franchise itself will lose money by allowing ridiculous trade demands to happen. In the end, the league will be on the losing end from franchises that don’t earn in the long run.
2 The gains of the Player Empowerment era are diminished
Some people would say that the Player Empowerment era in the NBA started with LeBron James taking his talents to the Miami Heat, a move that resulted in two championships. Since then, stars all over the league have found a way to elevate themselves, particularly on the financial aspect of their careers.
Harden’s recent move threatens to diminish what James has started in the NBA. This will somehow spur league officials to limit all the opportunities players enjoy these days. If this becomes a reality, it will only be done to help front offices avoid being at the mercy of a select few who have become so selfish with their wants and needs as NBA stars.
Also, it should be noted while players have the right to play where they want, abusing those rights by forcing their way out of their respective teams and demanding a trade—even making a public spectacle out of it—is actually against the virtues of the “Player Empowerment” era. After all, in the case of LeBron when he joined the Heat, he made the decision as a free agent. Same with Kevin Durant when he joined the Golden State Warriors.
In the end, player empowerment isn’t about getting what players want in all kinds of situations, but rather players having the ability to choose what’s the best for their careers.
1 James Harden’s trade demand encourages over-entitlement among NBA stars
The Beard’s call-out of Morey was done to leverage his desire to be traded again, this time to the Clippers. If he succeeds, the precedent will be set in stone for other players to follow.
This precedent will then somehow lessen the power of the contracts they enter with their respective teams. If someone like Harden can opt into the final year of his contract and demand a trade shortly after, what’s to stop other guys from doing the same? In effect, this will prevent franchises, especially those with weak markets, from building a competent squad that can make the playoffs.
In any case, allowing Harden to get away with his demands isn’t going to do the NBA much good. Keep an eye out, though, for any development in the City of Brotherly Love between the Beard and the Sixers’ front office as this conflict might go on longer than anyone wants it to.