If you were expecting fireworks Wednesday, you were likely disappointed.
After a contentious summer in which James Harden demanded a trade, the 10-time All-Star showed up to Sixers training camp in Fort Collins, Colorado, Wednesday and participated in practice.
And the practice appeared to be normal.
A report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said that Harden was planning to show up to training camp to make things “so uncomfortable” for the Sixers that they’d be forced to trade him. It’s only been a day, but that didn’t appear to be the case.
In fact, both new head coach Nick Nurse and veteran forward Tobias Harris praised Harden’s attitude and effort on his first day reuniting with his teammates.
Nick Nurse said James Harden participated in most of practice, looked good. Said he talked to Harden right before practice, expects he’ll be here moving forward.— Noah Levick (@NoahLevick) October 4, 2023
Tobias Harris said James Harden’s attitude and energy today made it clear that he’s here to compete, that Harden “looked great.”— Noah Levick (@NoahLevick) October 4, 2023
This is a pretty fascinating development — though maybe not totally surprising.
Clearly Harden believed that Daryl Morey and the Sixers were planning to offer him a large, long-term contract this summer. When Harden read the tea leaves and knew that wasn’t happening, he picked up his player option for 2023-24 and immediately demanded a trade.
After Morey was unsuccessful in finding a trade with the Los Angeles Clippers, Harden’s preferred destination, the two teams ended negotiations. It was then that Harden publicly ripped the Sixers’ president of basketball operations, calling him a liar and saying he would not play for any organization Morey is involved with.
There was much speculation about what Harden’s next move would be after he was fined for his comments about Morey and the implication that he would not fulfill his contract. He skipped media day this past Monday and was also not present Tuesday when training camp kicked off at Colorado State University.
But for whatever reason, Harden showed up and participated on Wednesday. Perhaps he’s realizing that his best course of action is to return to the Sixers and re-establish his market value — for a trade and/or his next contract.
The Sixers will be in Colorado for training camp through Friday before tipping off the preseason in Boston on Sunday night against the Celtics.
As for Harden’s status going forward, Nurse expects him to be around.