James Harden skips Sixers’ practice; Nurse: No explanation

Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden did not show up for practice Wednesday, with coach Nick Nurse saying he had no explanation as to why.

Harden, who has sought a trade since picking up his $35.6 million player option for the 2023-24 season, had been expected to participate in Wednesday’s practice. Last week, Harden said he could make his preseason debut at home on Friday — the team’s final preseason game — against the Atlanta Hawks.

“If he’s here, we go; if he’s not here, we go,” Nurse told reporters Wednesday. “… 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, after attending a meeting with the team in New York on Sunday, has been in Houston for the past few days, sources told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. The franchise plans to allow Harden the chance to explain his absence before deciding how to handle any punishment, sources told Shelburne.

Harden has been frustrated for months that his wish to be traded to the LA Clippers has yet to be granted. The two teams have talked in recent days, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Wednesday, but that a sizable gap remains between them on a potential Harden deal.

In his only media appearance since arriving at training camp earlier this month, Harden said Friday that he could make his preseason debut this Friday in Philadelphia.

“I’ll ramp it up and try to play the last one just to get myself in game situations and get used to the physicality of defenders bumping you and whatnot,” Harden said then. “The speed, the tempo, all that good stuff. So I think we’ve got a good plan in place.”

He attended practice Sunday, but then was not at Monday’s shootaround or at Monday night’s game at the Brooklyn Nets. The 76ers were off Tuesday, setting up Wednesday as the next time he could potentially be on the court with his teammates.

Harden, who has been tied at the hip with 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey since the latter brought him to the Houston Rockets in a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder prior to the 2012-13 season, called Morey a “liar” during a shoe event in China in August.

Harden said Friday that there was no chance of that relationship being repaired, and he repeatedly referred to Morey as “the front office” without saying his name.

“No,” Harden said flatly, when asked directly if he thought things could get patched up with Morey. “This is not even about this situation — this is in life. When you lose trust in someone, it’s like a marriage … you lose trust in someone, you know what I mean? It’s pretty simple.”

Added Harden later: “Me and the front office had a very, very good relationship for a decade. There was constant communication, you know what I mean? There was no communication once we lost [to Boston in the playoffs].”

Both Harden and Joel Embiid have missed the first three preseason games, with Philadelphia’s hope being that the two of them would play Friday against Atlanta.

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