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Embiid responds to Harden’s comments: ‘We allowed him to just be himself’

James Harden’s first press conference as a Clipper was filled with a couple viral quotes. Joel Embiid responded to The Beard’s comments postgame Thursday.

2023 NBA Playoffs - Philadelphia 76ers v Boston Celtics Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

James Harden was introduced to the media Thursday following his trade to the Los Angeles Clippers earlier this week.

And he did not hold back when he was asked about his time with the Sixers.

Apparently, Harden was not pleased with the way then-head coach Doc Rivers coached him, saying he felt like he was “on a leash” in Rivers’ offense.

While Sixers fans can certainly empathize with Harden on being displeased with Rivers, it’s a little hard to understand exactly where he’s coming from. Harden’s usage rate last season was 25%, a far cry from his peak in Houston, but he was also sharing the court with the MVP of the league, Joel Embiid.

Embiid was asked about Harden’s comments postgame Thursday after the Sixers cruised to a win over the Raptors. More than anything, Embiid sounded a little confused by the comments, but mostly took the high road with effusive praise for The Beard.

“I don’t think [he ever expressed that he was misused]. I think he did a lot of great things for us, but the notion he was misused I think might be coming from the way he felt about the coaching staff. But in my opinion we allowed him to just be himself and we gave him the ball every single possession. He’s really good. He’s an amazing player. Obviously being that great of a passer, we gave him the ball. If you watched the games, we gave him the ball every single possession to go out there and do his thing.”

Pretty spot on. Embiid didn’t want to get into his thoughts on the return Daryl Morey got — or how the team’s lead executive might use the newfound assets — but did talk about his excitement over the new players joining the roster.

As far as Harden and Embiid goes, the two had a great partnership on the court and seemed to have a good relationship off of it. As we all know, Harden’s trade demand had much more to do with his fractured relationship with Morey.

There’s plenty of blame to go around for what’s gone wrong with the Sixers over the last few months. Rather than dwell on that, Embiid seems ready to move on — with no ill-will towards Harden and confidence in the players around him.

“I’m happy that the situation got resolved and I’m happy for him. He wanted that to happen, but it’s all business. I’m happy for him and I hope he has a chance to succeed and make a lot of money, play good basketball and be able to win. I hope we both make the Finals but he’s on the losing side of it.”

A Sixers-Clippers NBA Finals feels fairly unlikely, but my goodness, it would be a whole lot of fun.

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