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James Harden says he’ll play (for now), but does not believe relationship can be repaired

James Harden broke his silence, saying that he intends to play for the Sixers but that his relationship with Daryl Morey cannot be fixed.

Dallas Mavericks v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

James Harden broke his silence on Friday (the 13th, which seems fitting) after Sixers practice.

He told reporters on hand that he will continue to practice and will join his teammates on the floor, but that his feelings toward the “front office” have not changed.

Harden went into more detail about the situation and how he does not believe his relationship with the “front office” — really just Daryl Morey — can be repaired.

So, let’s unpack some of this.

It feels like this is the status quo for a minute here. Harden will show up when he’s supposed to and apparently give an honest effort. But he’s making it clear that he would still like to be traded because of his frayed relationship with Morey.

He was careful to avoid any language that could get him fined, but did answer a question about whether he’s still demanding a trade.

“You’ve got to talk to the front office about that, but I’ve just been here working my butt off,” Harden said, per NBCSP’s Noah Levick. “I love the game of basketball, so I’m just in the gym and putting the work in. That’s all I can control.”

After all the noise we heard about how uncomfortable Harden was planning to make things for the Sixers, even this availability Friday lacked bluster. Harden conveyed his feelings calmly and professionally.

The “retire as a Sixer” thing needs to be called out though. We all remember that Grinchy Christmas morning report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that the Rockets and Harden had mutual interest in a reunion — and that reporting was backed up by just about every insider you could name. And those rumors lingered into free agency until it was Houston, strongly influenced by new head coach Ime Udoka, that decided to go with Fred VanVleet to lead its young team.

So, we get a small amount of clarity knowing that Harden will suit up and play games for the team. What’s not clear is how long The Beard goes along with this arrangement. It does appear that the Los Angeles Clippers, Harden’s preferred destination and seemingly only suitor, are making a push to get a deal done. Still, their offer to the Sixers seems pretty underwhelming and not something Morey is ready to entertain.

The preseason finale will be at home next Friday against the Hawks. Head coach Nick Nurse said pregame Wednesday that he’d like to have his rotation mostly sorted out by then — with Harden and Joel Embiid, who also has yet to play a preseason game, obvious parts of that.

Interestingly, Harden was extremely complimentary of Nurse.

The regular season kicks off in less than two weeks when the Sixers visit the revamped Milwaukee Bucks on Oct. 24.

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