What a mess James Harden has made. The Philadelphia 76ers are tipping off their season in Milwaukee on Thursday night, and won’t have the NBA’s reigning assists leader in the lineup. The Beard won’t even make the trip.
Nor will he be active for the following contest, per ubiquitous NBA insider Shams Charania:
James Harden returned to Philadelphia on Tuesday night with his bags packed to join team on the road for Thursday vs. Bucks and Saturday vs. Raptors, but the 76ers have now asked him not to travel with the team, sources said. https://t.co/N7GONkU6l9
Now as you can see, that post went viral, but with Shams not confirming any other context, it could’ve been favorably interpreted as “oh the team wants him to train, continue his physical ramp up since he’s out of shape, and not make the trip to focus on that.”
Shams chimed in Wednesday evening to say that Harden doesn’t look like someone who’s going to be playing “anytime soon.”
“Sources told me that (James Harden) made efforts to travel with the team on their two-game road trip, but the team actually asked him not to travel, to stay home.”
Harden is such a mercurial malcontent who’s quit on every single team he’s ever played for sooner or later. It’s not that he’s incapable of playing elite basketball still. It’s that he’s seemingly not mentally cut out to do it when it matters most, on the biggest stages, or for any sustainable period of time at this juncture of his career.
You might be saying, “That’s some heavy-duty conjecture!” to quote Chris Evans in Knives Out. No GIF available for that niche line, apologies.
…Only it’s not. Or at least I don’t think so. Take it from Doc Rivers, who said his honest relationship with Harden is probably why he’s doing TV with ESPN and not coaching the Sixers still.
"Our relationship, it was an honest one. It's probably why I'm doing TV."
In case you don’t want to watch that little bit of video above, Doc essentially says Harden started changing the way he played once coaches decided not to make him an All-Star last season.
I can’t fathom why they wouldn’t want him, I tell you! He seems like such a good guy and a great teammate!
We’ve reached the point where precisely one single team wants to trade for James Harden. Or at least they did. That’s no longer the case. Even the perpetually cursed Clippers can recognize the potential combustible dysfunction Harden brings with him. If you’re Harden, that’s when you know you’re down bad.
Can’t decide which Harden revelation is my favorite. That he let an All-Star snub tank his season, get Rivers fired and cause the Sixers to underachieve yet again. That the Clippers are giving up on him for now. Or that he crawled back to Philly only for the team to tell him to buzz off.
Take your pick. James Harden is in a tough spot. If only this all could’ve been avoided, right?