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Sixers react to James Harden’s absence at Media Day

James Harden’s absence at Sixers media day led to more questions than answers.

Houston Dynamo v Inter Miami CF - 2023 U.S. Open Cup Final Photo by Carmen Mandato/USSF/Getty Images for USSF

The Sixers held their introductory press conferences at their practice facility in Camden, New Jersey as Media Day kicked off the season Monday morning. Unsurprisingly, James Harden was not in attendance as he remains away from the team while seeking a trade.

Team president Daryl Morey said that while both sides are still working on completing a trade, he still expects Harden to participate in training camp. Morey was also asked whether Harden will be fined for his no-show, and said that he expects the 10-time All-Star will be treated like every other player under the CBA.

Morey said he was hurt on a personal level by Harden’s comments earlier this summer, but didn’t comment any further on what Harden meant by calling him a liar. He said that while he is still working with Harden’s representation to get a deal done, the two haven’t talked directly since the trade request.

Joel Embiid called the situation “unfortunate,” and was asked to compare the situation to the Ben Simmons trade request two offseasons ago. He’s still hopeful Harden rejoins the roster.

“Just like the last time this happened, when he was on the team he gave us a better chance to win a championship,” Embiid said.

While Embiid remains vocal about wanting to bring Harden back into the fold, he admitted the situation was frustrating and hinted that another season as a “gap year” is not what he sees.

“I believe any team that I’m on, we’re always going to have a chance,” Embiid said. “Just need be a little bit of luck, just need to be healthy and stay healthy.”

P.J. Tucker also had quite a bit of Harden questions to deal with, given how close the two are both on and off the court. Tucker said that Harden (and Embiid) were the reasons he wanted to come play in Philadelphia in the first place, but Harden’s absence hasn’t changed his desire to be on this roster. He said his most recent social media post was just “defending his brother’s back” and that it goes much deeper than basketball.

“That’s my brother, no question,” Tucker said. “Our relationship goes way beyond basketball and the years we spent together. That aside, he has his own thing, and it is what it is ... but the rest of us have to go to work, get ready to play.”

Danny Green had a more humorous approach to the situation, as he said years of practice have helped him prepare for this situation. He referenced both the Ben Simmons saga in 2021 and Kawhi Leonard’s trade request back when he was on the Spurs in 2017 as helping him compartmentalize the situations. Green, like every other Sixer, stressed that Harden is still a brother and friend, and his trade request doesn’t change that, and that “you gotta kind of be Switzerland.”

The Sixers kick off training camp in Fort Collins, Colorado Tuesday. We’ll then see Harden’s next move.

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