This offseason, one of the biggest stories in the NBA was James Harden’s contract decision with the Philadelphia 76ers. Instead of opting into his $47 million player option, the All-Star point guard took a $15 million pay cut. Because of this selfless act, Daryl Morey was able to go out and sign Danuel House Jr. and P.J. Tucker in free agency.
Given the connection between Morey, Harden, and the pair of veteran forwards, the league launched an investigation on the Sixers. The basis of the investigation was to see if any forms of tampering had been committed while Tucker was still a member of the Miami Heat.
Not much has come about since reports of the investigation surfaced, but recent events could change that. On August 26th, Harden held a yacht party to celebrate his 33rd birthday. Among those in attendance was rapper Lil Baby, who gifted the former MVP with $250,000 in cash and quarters.
After how things transpired this summer, there is no telling how commissioner Adam Silver and the league office will respond to such a gift.
Kevin Durant Attends James Harden’s Birthday Party
Another major storyline in the NBA this summer was the Kevin Durant trade saga. Back at the end of June, the two-time Finals MVP informed the Brooklyn Nets that he wanted a change of scenery. Following nearly two months of almost no traction on a deal, both sides managed to worked out their differences and continue their partnership.
Up until Durant decided to return to the Nets, the Sixers were one of the teams in the mix, according to rumors. The All-Star forward listed Philly as a desired landing spot and was spotted with Harden on multiple occasions.
Given how Harden’s tenure in Brooklyn came to an abrupt ending, many were curious why Durant would want to reunite with his former teammates. However, the two managed to repair their tethered relationship after running into each other this summer. As a testament to this, Durant was also spotted at the birthday festivities.
James Harden Doubles Down on ‘Skinny James’
Over the past few seasons, a narrative has been created around Harden that Father Time is starting to catch up to him. Nagging hamstring injuries hindered the star guard from having similar explosiveness from his time in Houston.
In an effort to silence his critics, Harden has been hard at work preparing for his first full season in Philly. His diligent offseason training continues to turn heads as photos of his body transformation surface.
During the birthday festivities, Harden showed had dedicated he is to getting his body into elite shape. Instead of eating his cake, he opted to throw it out the off the boat.
While enjoying some downtime in the offseason, Tyrese Maxey made an appearance at a Philadelphia Phillies game and joined the broadcast for some questions. It was there that the “skinny James” nickname was born.
“Sometimes I have to sit in between Joel [Embiid] and James [Harden], and those when the seats get bad,” said Maxey. “True, exactly, skinny James,” he responded when asked about his backcourt partner.