The Sixers took a harsh decision to leave James Harden behind ahead of this week’s two-game road trip and the NBA wants to know why. The league recently strengthened their rules over resting healthy players this season, especially if they are stars, and even worse if the game will be nationally televised. This was the case for Thursday night’s season opener against the Milwaukee Bucks.
“We’re looking into the facts around James Harden’s availability tonight to determine whether an approved reason exists for his lack of participation,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass shared in a statement.
It’s no secret that the veteran guard wishes to be traded out of Philadelphia and has even missed a couple of training sessions in the past days. His coach Nick Nurse explained that the 34-year-old wouldn’t travel with the rest of the team so he could work on rebuilding his condition.
Apparently, Harden had tried to board the 76ers plane to Milwaukee but was turned away. According to Bleacher Report, he was “stopped by a security official who notified him that he was not permitted to accompany the team.”
After their 118-117 loss, the Sixers coach simply replied that “there was a report that he showed up for practice and we determined that he should stay back for conditioning.” Teams are now exposed to a $100,000-fine for their first violation of the policy.
NBA insider Ramona Shelburne appeared on the NBA Today earlier this week and gave her honest take on Harden’s reality in Philadelphia. “They just have to operate as if he’s not there — because he’s not there,” she said. “He hasn’t done anything competitively since he left the team. He’s working out, but even in camp, he didn’t really do much competitively, where he’s taking contact, maybe one drill.”
The ESPN reporter guarantees that it will be “quite some time” before the ten-time All-Star returns to the courts with Philly.
“Even if he comes back, let’s say, there’s a game Thursday, they’re off Friday, Saturday’s Nick Nurse’s return to Toronto, Sunday’s the home opener. There’s gonna be a huge ramp up James Harden has to do to get into basketball shape — even if he does come back,” she explained. “So we’re anywhere close to him even coming back. We need to plan for him to not be there for quite some time.”
The Clippers have reportedly decided to stop trade talks with the Sixers over Harden as the season has already started
The Los Angeles franchise has been flirting with Philadelphia over their veteran star for quite some time now, but gotten nowhere. As the campaign has already began, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski assures that the Clippers have decided to pause the negotiations for now.
“At least for the foreseeable future, the Clippers are stepping back from these trade talks about James Harden,” he expressed. “They are essentially pausing them. They have talked with Philadelphia for months about a trade. They’ve made their best offer for Harden. They are now going to start their season and see what this team looks like with a healthy Kawhi Leonard, a healthy Paul George.”
— New York Post (@nypost) October 26, 2023
The prestigious insider then added on NBA Countdown that this decision is not definite, as the California franchise might reconsider. However, they are convinced they’re the only bidders for the 34-year-old and feel no pressure to continue for now.
“The Clippers may revisit this at some point, but they know they’re the only bidder for James Harden. They’re the only team that’s made a serious offer. They don’t want to bid against themselves,” Woj shared.