So far, James Harden is playing nice for the Philadelphia 76ers at their training camp in Fort Collins, Colo. ESPN’s Tim Bontempts reported that he arrived on Wednesday, the second day of camp, and is “participating in practice.” The 76ers even posted photographs on social media of Harden high-fiving a 76ers employee. Another star professional athlete who made an appearance at practice on Wednesday after previously requesting a trade was Jonathan Taylor for the Indianapolis Colts.
Taylor was on the PUP list for the first four weeks of the regular season. Taylor was also unhappy with his contract, and asked the Colts for a trade during training camp. After Taylor left the camp twice, they gave him permission to pursue a trade. While Harden is in the eye of the storm, it appears that Hurricane Taylor has left Indianapolis. Taylor, who was a first-team All Pro in 2021 was unhappy that the Colts did not extend his contract and had the option to franchise-tag him for two additional years at the end this season. He would be likely to receive around $11m for a season if he plays under the franchise tag in 2024. He was aware that this had happened to Saquon Barkleyand Josh Jacobsthis summer and he tried to get ahead of the reality. After 372 touches, Taylor was good, but not great, in his third NFL year, 2022. A sprained ankle also ended that season prematurely. Taylor failed his original Colts’ physical this summer with his ankle not fully healed, and he was also
reportedly suffering from back pain — which he denied
.His return will absolutely be a boost to the team. They have begun the season 2-2, and host the Tennessee Titans
in a big early inter-division matchup on Sunday. The Colts can still win the AFC South even with a rookie quarterback like Anthony Richardson. Unfortunately for Taylor though, no matter how well he and the Colts play, he will not get anything close to what he wants contractually.
Harden can throw a 2009 Brandon-Marshall-type fit at practice if he so chooses, and his value as a player will remain the same. It would be comic relief for us, but a disaster for the 76ers. Harden called Daryl Morey, 76ers general manger verbally and on a nightclub poster. Taylor would face a fine and a ruined career if he was sent home because he refused to catch passes during practice. Although he may look familiar without a helmet on, he doesn’t have half of Harden’s fame and value for a franchise. Taylor is a running back who has had more than 1,800 touches since his freshman year of college. What team would want a running back with that many touches? What team would want a running back, with more than 1,800-touches since his freshman year of college, who is capable of an outburst?
Taylor is backed into a corner that his production cannot get him out of, while Harden is likely rubbing his beard and thinking of his next move to expedite his exit from the 76ers and receive another multi-year contract. Taylor is in a bind, even though he can do more than Harden to win this season. In three years, this is not a certainty. Two athletes who have suffered injuries, but one of them began playing free. Harden is holding what is left of the 76ers’ 2023-24 season in his hands, following the recent trades by the Milwaukee Bucks and
, while the rebuilding Colts are exceeding expectations without Taylor on the field.Harden’s situation is a circus
, while Taylor’s is a case study on the disposability of a football player who touches the ball more times than everyone on the team except the starting quarterback.