It’s easy to talk tough when there is nothing at stake.
Which is what we have seen from James Harden and the Philadelphia 76ers last week — there has been zero actual movement toward getting a trade done (or Harden changing his mind and coming back). That’s to be expected. When Harden issued his trade demand, many fans expected quick action, but until there is actual pressure on the sides to make a deal, nothing will happen. With no games for months, there is no pressure on the sides to find a deal.
That has not slowed down the talk and posturing. The latest was James Harden on Instagram.
That was in response to a report that Harden would report to training camp on Oct. 2 if not traded yet, so Harden dropped a not-so-subtle hint that he would be disruptive in camp, as he was in Houston. Morey has dealt with disruptive holdouts before — Morey waited out Ben Simmons to be able to trade him for Harden — and has said he needs to get back a running mate for Joel Embiid in any trade because this team is a contender. Embiid has done his own posturing to pressure Morey.
All of that is meaningless in July, there are no consequences for talking tough in the middle of the NBA offseason.
Training camps open Oct. 2 and around then is when the pressure returns. Harden wants to be traded to the Clippers, who have shown little interest in making anything but a lowball offer for him. Morey isn’t interested in those offers. The pressure will ramp up closer to the start of training camp: Will the Clippers decide they need Harden and raise their offer? Will other suitors step up and will Harden be open to them? Will Morey backed off his high demands for a 33-year-old player in the final year of his contract who could be a rental? Or will Harden decide Morey isn’t bluffing and he needs to come back and play — and play well — to secure a big contract for next year?
None of that will be decided in July, it’s all empty talk. Get back to us in late September and into October when the pressure starts to ramp up and the conversations have consequences.