Is James Harden staying with the 76ers? Plus, motivating the youth


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If you were trying to get traded, would you wear a fat suit under your warm-ups?

Standstill in Philly

The easy way or the Harden way?

There has been so much focus on Damian Lillard and where he might go and what his new single released late last night might say (nothing, by the way) that it seems like we’ve kind of collectively forgotten about James Harden and his trade status. News broke right before free agency that Harden and the 76ers would work on finding a trade for him out of Philly. It seems like he wants to go to the Clippers. And … crickets … after that.

Sam Amick’s latest from Las Vegas provided an update on what’s happening with Harden and the trade market:

Yet despite all that relevant history, and in spite of the fact that (Daryl) Morey may know Harden, and all of his complexities, better than anyone in the NBA, rival executives with whom I spoke at summer league were universally convinced that the Sixers are now attempting to keep Harden. Discontent be damned.

The sluggish trade talks between the Sixers and Clippers about Harden would seem to support this stance. Morey is known to be asking for the kind of return that — as of Tuesday afternoon — left the strong impression that he had no genuine interest in getting a deal done anytime soon.

Harden’s stance has not changed, a source close to him told The Athletic. He still wants to leave Philadelphia.

This could get wonderfully awkward, and we love awkward chaos. Morey, the Sixers’ president of basketball ops, can be stubborn, and we saw how that played out with Ben Simmons. Morey is known for throwing out trade proposals that are symbolic middle fingers to the other team.

Could Morey withstand Harden’s ways of potentially making things uncomfortable? Remember, there are people on the internet who believe he even wore a fat suit during warm-ups with the Rockets to get traded. Is Morey able to keep ownership calm if something wild like that happens?

The idea of keeping Harden probably won’t work. We’ve seen Tom Thibodeau think that could work with Jimmy Butler, and it blew up. But Harden has an expiring deal, and he can threaten any team trying to trade for him that he won’t re-sign.

I actually do hope Harden’s situation stagnates enough to have us monitoring Sixers training camp wondering if he’s going to show up and eager to see what happens if he does. And I hope he’s wearing a fat suit.

Let’s check in with Shams.

The Latest From Shams

News and notes from the week

Summer league is rolling along in Las Vegas, and the NBA world is still waiting for movement on those Harden and Lillard situations. In the meantime, some highlights during the calm before the storm:

  • The NBA has granted the Chicago Bulls a disabled player exception for Lonzo Ball, who is expected to miss all of next season rehabbing his right knee, sources told The Athletic. Chicago can now use the $10.2 million in free agency and trade opportunities. Ball played his last game in the 2021-22 season and has undergone three knee surgeries since.
  • On Tuesday, Kyrie Irving announced a deal with Chinese athleticwear company ANTA. He signed a five-year endorsement deal, industry sources tell me, and will serve as chief creative officer at the company. Irving’s management company, A11Even, negotiated the deal. The new deal will also give Irving the ability to recruit/sign players and other collaborators and bring a level of manufacturing to the United States to kickstart ANTA’s process to fully distribute in U.S.

Back to you, Zach.

Listen Up

Can’t get enough of motivating the youth

I hate the idea of parity. I love the idea of the elite of the elite being better than everybody at basketball and letting people know it. Sometimes it comes off as arrogant and churlish. And other times, it’s focused as a means of inspiration.

Two of my favorite examples of this come from Bradley Beal and Draymond Green trying to motivate young players hoping to make the league someday. These are two very different players and paths with two very important messages.

Years ago, this video of Beal trying to motivate his AAU players to take things more seriously was released, and it’s absolutely incredible. He reminded them there are only 400 players in the NBA at any given time (it’s closer to 500, but the point remains) in a world of billions. He was teaching them about how to carry themselves. And he dropped this gem:

“And I don’t never like pulling my NBA card, ever. But there’s only 400. That means if you got dreams of getting to the league, you gotta f—— play me. You gotta f—— guard me. And guess what? Can’t none of y’all motherf—— guard me. Ain’t none of y’all taking my job.”

Green had one in the last year or so circling social media in which he’s talking to young players at a Rico Hines basketball run and he calls them out for not running hard enough during sprints. And he put it simply:

“You gotta want this s—, man. We can talk IQ. We can talk all of this s—, but at the end of the day, the motherf—– who want it more is gonna get it. Because I promise I’m gonna want it more.”

Another motivational speech from an NBA player dropped this week. It was Andre Drummond talking to young players he’s mentoring. He noticed players not being good teammates and not celebrating when their team does something as they’re sitting on the bench. And he decided to pull from his personal experience about sacrificing minutes, role and numbers for the greater good.

“I was that guy. I was a $100 million guy. I was pouting. I was upset when I wasn’t playing. And I had a bad attitude. I went from $100 million to a f—— league minimum.”

He went on to say that numbers are fine, but teams also care about you being a good teammate, locker room person and someone who can be counted on every night.

These are great lessons and great motivational tools. I can’t get enough of these videos.

Offseason Mode

Tweaks to The Bounce … for now

I know, I know. We just got here! But we want to make sure you’re getting quality insight sent to your inbox every single time, and let’s face it, there just isn’t a ton of news out there until Harden or Lillard gets traded (and maybe I just jinxed us all).

Starting next week, we’re going to cut back to Tuesday and Friday editions of The Bounce until we switch to full season-preview mode for 2023-24. We plan to have some fun with Hot Take Tuesday, a basketball movie review every Friday, some nostalgia, WNBA analysis, maybe some special guests and a whole lot more. And don’t forget the FIBA World Cup is happening soon too (by the way, check out Team Canada’s roster).

We also might chime in with an emergency edition if the news dictates. Thank you for subscribing, and we’re looking forward to a fun summer!

Bounce Passes

Josh Minott has been making a name for himself at summer league while battling breakfast.

Xavier Moon has been incredible for the Summer Clippers, and he could help the real team.

Dion Waiters opens up about his NBA exit and how his attitude affected it all.

Can Gabe Vincent push D’Angelo Russell for the Lakers’ primary point guard spot?

Mat Ishbia says the Suns will win at everything they do. Should’ve said they’re Light Years ahead.

Summer League Screen Game

All times Eastern.

  • Main screen: Thunder-Wizards (4:30 p.m. NBA TV). Chet Holmgren has been dominant, and Bilal Coulibaly is fun to watch.
  • Second screen: Grizzlies–Lakers (11 p.m. ESPN). Max Christie has been a must-watch at summer league.
  • Show of the night: “The Afterparty” (Apple TV+). Season 2 just dropped, and Season 1 was so good that you should dive in immediately if you missed it

(Photo: Bill Streicher / USA Today)

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