It was Day 3 for Sixers training camp at Colorado State University on Thursday. And much like Wednesday, James Harden participated and it appeared drama-free.
Joel Embiid discussed Harden’s presence and also went into detail about his choice to play for Team USA next summer in the Paris Olympics. Plus, new head coach Nick Nurse got a fun fictional coach comp while Doc Rivers continued to catch strays.
Here are a few notes from folks on the ground in Fort Collins covering camp.
We’ll keep this short because ... well, there’s not much to say.
For the second straight day, Harden showed up for practice and participated — though he’s still limited as he ramps up his conditioning. Everything we’re seeing remains positive. That could change at any moment, but so far it seems like things are mostly normal.
Nick Nurse says that James Harden is still ramping up for actually playing in team scrimmages. But, he wants to play.— Austin Krell (@NBAKrell) October 5, 2023
The Sixers have one more training camp practice Friday before flying to Boston for their first preseason game against the Celtics Sunday night. We’ll see where the Harden situation is then.
Why Team USA
Embiid had three options for next summer’s Olympics in Paris. He could’ve picked his native Cameroon. He also gained citizenship in France. Instead, he opted to play for Team USA after speaking with executive director Grant Hill a couple days ago.
Embiid became a US citizen last summer. He’s lived in the country since he was 16 to pursue his basketball career under the guidance of fellow Cameroonian Luc Mbah a Moute. A big factor in Embiid’s decision was his son Arthur, who was born in United States.
Embiid on his Team USA decision: “My son is American, and you add that to the fact that I’ve been here for such a long time, I feel like for the past few years this has been more every decision has been based off of family.”— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) October 5, 2023
A fun Mo Bamba cameo here as well: pic.twitter.com/YOdk3NUiiE
It’s interesting on so many levels:
- Embiid is a great player and seeing him on that stage representing the US will be pretty cool. Not sure there’s a database to check this, but it appears Embiid is the first Sixer to represent the US since Allen Iverson. Andre Iguodala was on the 2012 team, but that’s the summer the Sixers traded him to the Nuggets.
- The hope is he can be healthy for the games since he’s been so snakebitten throughout his career in the postseason. An injury-free playoff run for Embiid — followed by a gold medal — would be awesome.
- Lastly, this could represent a great opportunity for recruitment by Embiid, especially if Daryl Morey and the Sixers stick with their plan to have a max cap slot open next summer. (Free agency will have ended by the time the Olympics start, but there will be opportunities before that. Plus, trades would still be on the table.)
From a Doc to a Nurse
As with any coaching change, the new head coach is being lauded while the former one is catching strays.
A day after Danuel House, Jr. made some comments about how much better the offense would be under Nurse, Embiid agreed.
Embiid on Philadelphia’s offensive changes: “The biggest difference? I love it and we all love it. This is the best way to win and I’ve always believed that. I never liked the idea of just being a scorer.” pic.twitter.com/9IIwUuptju— PHLY Sixers (@PHLY_Sixers) October 5, 2023
To be fair, Doc’s way of doing things did get Embiid an MVP, but to the big man’s point, the predictability of the offense hurt them repeatedly in the postseason. An offense with more movement and with Embiid taking on a bigger role as a playmaker seems much more playoff-viable.
Also, in things you’d never see said about Doc Rivers ..
Danny Green says Nick Nurse has a “little Ted Lasso in him.”— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) October 5, 2023
Yeah, I can see it.
Nurse does have a few go-to sayings and quotes that have popped up already. By all indications, he’s a players coach. Plus, Nurse is from Iowa and Lasso was from Kansas. Both come with that Midwest vibe — though Nurse might be a little more Roy Kent-like when it comes to his approach to refs.