Daryl Morey Happy With Return In James Harden Trade

It took more than four months, but the Sixers got the assets they were seeking when James Harden first asked for a trade in late June, president of basketball operations Daryl Morey tells Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Morey said the focus was on acquiring expiring contracts and draft capital in any Harden deal. The trade with the Clippers brought back Marcus Morris, Nicolas Batum, Robert Covington and Kenyon Martin Jr., all of whom will be free agents next summer, along with a collection of draft assets that stretch through 2029.

“We set a bar in June, really, when James requested the trade and said, ‘Look, if we can get it to here, that should be what generally allows you to get out and get a player,” Morey said. “Having a player like Jrue (Holiday) go (to the Boston Celtics) for a similar package was sort of validating on that. So we set the bar, and obviously it came together where the Clippers met that price.”

What the Sixers didn’t get is Terance Mann, who was reportedly the sticking point for L.A. throughout the negotiations. According to Pompey, the Clippers initially offered one unprotected first-round pick and a pick swap along with the expiring contracts. With Morey unable to pry Mann loose, he settled for more draft capital instead.

Appearing Wednesday on the Ball Don’t Lie podcast, Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports suggested that Morey was reluctant to accept the final version of the trade, but was forced to by ownership, which told him to “get a deal done now.”

Speaking with Pompey, Morey downplayed the report, saying team owners have a role in virtually every NBA trade.

“Ownership, I can only speak to my side. I don’t know how much their side was involved,” Morey said. “Our side was straightforward, the same: Always keep them abreast of our plans, making recommendations for when we make trades, and they signed off on them. It was a very standard trade, so I didn’t quite follow that reporting.”

Morey also expressed hope that his long relationship with Harden, which fell apart in spectacular fashion this summer, can eventually be repaired.

“Look, I think time heals,” Morey said. “He wanted to be traded and we did follow through on what he wanted. … Honestly, I think he chose to handle things certain ways that I wouldn’t have. He might feel the same about us, that we should have moved quicker or whatever. Look, he’s a great player and he’s going to do great things for the Clippers. P.J. (Tucker) as well. I’m glad they’re in the West.”

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