CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) — Philadelphia 76ers coach Nick Nurse said he had no explanation for why James Harden skipped practice on Wednesday but planned to proceed as if the disgruntled guard will play in the preseason finale.
“If he’s here, we go; if he’s not here, we go,” Nurse told reporters at the 76ers’ New Jersey complex.
Harden has yet to play in the preseason. He did attend training camp and continued to practice with the 76ers in the wake of his offseason trade demand. Harden said last week his fractured relationship with team president Daryl Morey could not be repaired — comparing it to a broken marriage — and said over the summer that he could not play for the 76ers.
Part of Harden’s complaint stems from his belief he should have earned a long-term contract with the Sixers after last season. It never came, thus the trade demand.
Harden, who was evasive last week about the status of his trade demand, said he could try to play in the Sixers’ preseason finale on Friday against Atlanta. But he skipped practice, and the 76ers are unsure of what comes next.
Nurse, in his first season as Philadelphia’s coach, said he had expected Harden to both practice on Wednesday and play on Friday.
“From the last discussions I’ve had with him and from everybody, yeah,” Nurse said. “I’m still going on what he said the last time I talked him, that he was going to ramp up and get ready to play Friday. We’ll see how it goes.”
Harden has been one of the league’s top players for the past decade, winning three scoring titles and the 2018 league MVP award. He led the league in assists last season.
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