Tim BontempsESPN2 Minute Read
PHILADELPHIA — James Harden participated in the Philadelphia 76ers’ pregame walkthrough and video session ahead of Sunday night’s home opener against the Portland Trail Blazers, according to 76ers head coach Nick Nurse.
Harden is also expected to take part in Tuesday’s practice at the team’s Camden, New Jersey, facility.
“James was here,” Nurse said ahead of Sunday night’s game at Wells Fargo Center. “He was here for the film session and walk-through. The report on him is he had some good conditioning days, still in the ramp-up process, looking to have him back in practice on Tuesday. That’s about where we are with that.”
When asked if there had been any setbacks with Harden’s conditioning and ramp-up work over the past several days, Nurse said everything had gone according to plan.
“All signs are positive conditioning-wise and all those things,” Nurse said. “We just need to get him in some live action, then hopefully we can do that Tuesday.”
It’s been a circuitous route to this point for Harden and the 76ers, as the saga over Harden’s potential participation with the team this season continues to drag on. Harden requested a trade back in June when he opted into his $35.6 million player option for the 2023-24 season, and he 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, in the lone time he has addressed the media since the start of training camp, that he doesn’t see any way that relationship can be repaired and refused to use Morey’s name — instead repeatedly referring to him as “the front office.”
In the meantime, Harden skipped media day and the team’s first day of training camp at Colorado State University before showing up for the second day. He then was around the team for the next 10 days, only to then be away from the team for another 10 for what the team deemed a personal situation.
Harden returned Wednesday, the day before Philadelphia opened its season in Milwaukee against the Bucks, when it was agreed that he would remain in Philly for the rest of the week as he got himself back in a position to be able to play.
Sunday’s game, which is the second half of a back-to-back, will be followed by an off-day Monday, with practices expected both Tuesday and Wednesday. If Harden makes it through them successfully, he would be in position to potentially make his season debut Thursday night in Philadelphia against the Raptors.
With Harden sidelined, Tyrese Maxey has had a pair of outstanding performances as Philadelphia’s starting point guard. The fourth-year guard went for 31 points, 8 assists and no turnovers in the loss to the Bucks before putting up 34 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists and 1 turnover in Saturday’s win in Toronto.
Christine Lake is a sports fanatic who lives and breathes athletics. With an extensive background in sports journalism, he covers everything from major league championships to grassroots sports events. When she’s not on the field or at the stadium, you’ll find Christine coaching youth sports teams.