The Philadelphia 76ers sends ‘strange’ message to James Harden ahead of Thursday’s season opening against Milwaukee

PALO ALABASTER (AP) – The Philadelphia 76ers and James Harden’s tumultuous relationship took a new turn when the team advised the irate guard to remain home rather than travel for Thursday’s season opening against Milwaukee.

Harden, who made an offseason trade demand, did not participate in the preseason and did not practice last week due to a formal “personal matter.” However, on Wednesday, he arrived at the team’s Camden, New Jersey, complex prepared to play.


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Coach Nick Nurse reported that he received word of Harden’s arrival in town on Tuesday night. Harden participated in both early and late practices, according to the nurse, but not in the Bucks’ game preparation.

The upcoming game features a matchup between Joel Embiid, who has been crowned the NBA MVP twice and has also clinched the scoring championship twice, and Giannis Antetokounmpo, a two-time NBA MVP from Milwaukee. Recently, Antetokounmpo secured a substantial three-year contract extension with the Bucks.

Toronto Raptors head coach, Nick Nurse, mentioned to the press that they need to prepare for their game the following day with the available players. James Harden had been absent for about ten days, and they are now in a phase of intensifying his readiness. Harden will stay back to work on the court with the coaching staff, G League players, and two-way contract players to expedite his preparation.

Nurse stated that Harden accepted this decision and didn’t have any issues with it. Harden’s dissatisfaction stems from his belief that he should have received a long-term contract with the Philadelphia 76ers after the previous season. When that didn’t happen, he decided to opt for the current season with the expectation that the 76ers would trade him, but that trade never came to fruition. The 76ers will be playing against the Toronto Raptors on Saturday, with Nurse having led the Raptors to an NBA championship in 2019, and they have their home opener against the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday.

Nurse, who is in his first season with the Philadelphia 76ers, didn’t commit to whether Harden would play in any of those games. He mentioned that they will need to assess the situation over the next few sessions and rely on the information available in a couple of days.

Harden joined the training camp late and continued practicing with the 76ers earlier in the month after demanding a trade. He expressed his inability to mend his strained relationship with the team president, Daryl Morey, likening it to a broken marriage. During the summer, he made it clear that he couldn’t play for the 76ers.

Nurse emphasized that his primary focus at the moment is the game scheduled for the next night, and any concerns or issues that may arise will be addressed as needed. He believes that the team is not greatly affected by the situation.

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