Per a Sixers spokesperson, “James Harden did not attend practice today as he is away from the team due to a personal matter.”
Now, to quickly rewind, things had been fairly quiet by the Sixers’ standards over the past couple weeks. James Harden had skipped the team’s Media Day, but then showed up to training camp, continued practicing with the team, and everything generally seemed OK (on the Sixers-adjusted scale).
That presumption changed yesterday, however, when Harden was a no-show at the team’s practice. To many, that absence was a signal that The Beard was about to make things uncomfortable (you know, more uncomfortable), and the lit match would be thrown on the fire at any moment.
Then, the team provided the statement above as Harden missed his second straight practice today. Of course, there’s a chance there is a personal matter going on in Houston for James, and if so, we hope everything turns out alright.
I think it’s fair to approach the statement with some cynicism, though, given all the trade request drama going on right now. If this is just a cover to avoid the appearance of further disharmony, I suppose it’s a better alternative than everything blowing up in the team’s faces and people tweeting out the “This is fine” meme with the dog surrounded by flames. Maybe it would mean the organization is fairly close to a deal being struck and they don’t want to completely disrupt things when talks are at the five-yard line?
Anyway, the team marches on, and it doesn’t seem like we’ll see Harden in the preseason finale tomorrow.
Nick Nurse said he believes it’s “unlikely” James Harden will play tomorrow. Said the team is preparing to play and that the energy in the gym has been great.— Paul Hudrick (@PaulHudrick) October 19, 2023
In the event Harden was going to play in any games for Philadelphia this season, you would have liked for him to have more than one 5-on-5 session with the team during training camp and preseason. Alas, the Sixers will have to play the hand they’re being dealt, one that includes an occasionally disappearing hole card.