Tim Bontempsespn4 minutes to read
PHILADELPHIA — James Harden participated in the Philadelphia 76ers’ pregame walkthrough and video session before Sunday night’s home opener against the Portland Trail Blazers, according to 76ers coach Nick Nurse.
Harden is also expected to participate in the team’s practice on Tuesday at the team’s facility in Camden, New Jersey.
“James was here,” Nurse said before Sunday night’s game at Wells Fargo Center. “He was here for a film shoot. The report is that he had some good days in conditioning, is still in the condensation phase, and is looking forward to getting him back into training on Tuesday. This is where we are now.”
When asked if there were any setbacks in Harden’s conditioning and intensity work over the past few days, Nurse said everything went according to plan.
“All signs are positive in terms of conditioning and all that stuff,” the nurse said. “We just need to get him into some live action and then hopefully we can do that on Tuesday.”
Harden sat on the bench with his teammates during Sunday’s game, wearing jeans and a green jacket. It was shown briefly during the team’s pregame introductory video, though Philadelphia only presented its starting lineup before the game, meaning there was no chance to see how the crowd would react to seeing Harden on the jumbotron.
It’s been a circuitous path to this point for Harden and the 76ers, as the saga surrounding Harden’s potential involvement with the team this season continues. Harden requested a trade back in June when he picked up his $35.6 million player option for the 2023-24 season, and called 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey a “liar” multiple times during a promotional appearance in China in August.
Harden said earlier this month, the only time he has addressed the media since the start of training camp, that he saw no way to repair that relationship and declined to use Morey’s name — instead repeatedly referring to him as “the front office.”
Meanwhile, Harden missed media day and the first day of the team’s training camp at Colorado State University before appearing on the second day. He then remained on the team for the next 10 days, then was absent from the team for another 10 days due to what the team deemed a personal situation.
Harden returned on Wednesday, the day before Philadelphia opened its season in Milwaukee against the Bucks, when it was agreed that he would remain in Philadelphia for the remainder of the week as he got himself back into position to play.
Sunday’s game, the second half of a back-to-back, will be followed by Monday off, with practices expected Tuesday and Wednesday. If Harden makes it through them successfully, he will be in position to make his season debut on Thursday night in Philadelphia against the Raptors.
With Harden sidelined, Tyrese Maxey has had an outstanding performance as Philadelphia’s point guard. The fourth-year guard scored 31 points, 8 assists and no turnovers in a loss to the Bucks before recording 34 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists and 1 turnover in Saturday’s win in Toronto.
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