The fight to stand alone atop NBA Insider Mountain continues between Adrian Wojnarowski and Shams Charania. What better way for that battle to continue than with them framing the latest news on the impasse between James Harden and the Philadelphia 76ers in two different ways.
Charania first reported that Harden was returned to the 76ers’ practice facility on Wednesday. It was the first time that Harden had been there in 10 days. The team will make their 2023-24 regular-season debut on Thursday against the Milwaukee Bucks, but Harden will not be with them in Wisconsin. On FanDuel TV’s Run it Back, Charania said that because Harden has practiced very little with the team, he didn’t expect to see him on the court “anytime soon.”
A little later in the day, Wojnarowski tweeted that Harden will not be with the team for their first two games. The 76ers travel to face the Toronto Raptors. Wojnarowski reported that the franchise’s concerns were what Charania said, Harden needed to work back into game shape.
However, five minutes before that was sent, Charnia reported some information that framed Harden’s not boarding the charter flight to Milwaukee in a much different light. He posted on Xwitter that Harden showed up with his “bags packed,” and was told not to travel with the team. Wojnarowski later updated his report, and posted that the 76ers, and Harden had some talks and “directed” him to work with the staff at the facility to get ready to play.
Per usual, Wojnarowski put out the more corporate-friendly post, while Charania added just a dash of spice to his. A more serious example of this was the Ime Udoka situation prior to the start of last season. Woj initially reported that Udoka was being suspended for an unspecified violation of team policy. Charania went a little further in his report, with the detail that Udoka had a consensual relationship with a team employee but had made some “unwanted comments” to her. That opened the door for others, including Woj, to push for, and report more details.
Woj’s reports have always come off as more favorable toward NBA organizations, especially those he is perceived to have ties with. That perception put his reporting surrounding the Damian Lillard and Portland Trail Blazers summer saga under scrutiny. However, it was Wojnarowski who came out as the big winner once Lillard was finally traded. Charania’s initial report was that Lillard had been sent to the Raptors. He later deleted that post, and Woj was first on the correct information that Lillard was traded to the Bucks.
The type of access that they have is the result of years of cultivating relationships with team executives, player agents, and other holders of NBA information. A Washington Post story from early October detailed both Charania and Wojnarowski’s road to becoming top NBA insiders. In that story, it is reported that Charania has a relationship with Harden.
That is something to keep in mind as this conflict between Harden and the 76ers comes to its inevitable end of him being traded. Remember when trade requests come, and any other NBA news that has not come to a conclusion, Charania, and Wojnarowski are competing with each other.
Because of that, they have people they are closer to in the industry than others. Those relationships are going to color the way that they deliver the information even if they ultimately have the same news.
Was Harden told as he motioned for someone to grab his suitcase that he would not be joining the team on its season-opening road trip, or is he simply, and logically, going through workouts to get him back up to speed so he won’t get hurt in a game?
That depends on which insider you believe. Just always remember, the way their reports are delivered is just as important as the news itself.