A report this week indicated James Harden plans to report to camp with the Philadelphia 76ers and additional information Zach Lowe gleaned from the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement could explain why that is his position. Harden continues to want a trade from the Sixers with the Los Angeles Clippers his preferred team.
“There’s an obscure clause in the collective bargaining agreement that says the following: ‘A player who is in the last year of his contract.’ Okay, so that’s James Harden. He’s on an expiring contract,” said Zach Lowe on his podcast.
“‘Who withholds his playing services for more than 30 days after the start of the last season covered by his contract shall be deemed’, I’m paraphrasing now, ‘should be deemed to have violated his contract. Accordingly, such a player shall not be a veteran free agent and shall not be entitled to negotiate or sign a contract with any other professional basketball team unless and until the team from which the player last played expressly agrees otherwise.’
“I was alerted to that clause by people who would know what it means. And then I checked with other people who would know what it means and I said ‘Am I an idiot or does this say he doesn’t actually show up, the Sixers, because he’s on an expiring contract, can block him in perpetuity from signing in the NBA?’
“And I checked with legal people and cap people and team people and whatever people, and the answer every time was ‘Yes. And not only the NBA, any other professional basketball teams means exactly what you think it is.
“So if you just read that, that’s why I made the comment about James’ quote showing his ass as you put it, because given that reality, if he’s not traded, he kind of has to show up and we know what happens if he shows up and he’s unhappy because we’ve seen it over and over again.”
The clause Lowe references in the collective bargaining agreement is from Article XI, Section 3.
Players in the NBA have rarely held out while actively under contract and will typically agitate for a trade while ostensibly with the team. Ben Simmons reported to practice with the Sixers in 2021 before he stepped away from the team in their standoff. Lowe also reported this week that Simmons received credit for a year of service for the 21-22 season despite not appearing in any games.