James Harden 76ers debut delayed until after All-Star break
With the utter shock of the 76ers trading for James Harden slowly fading, there is one big question that still needs to be answered. When will we finally get to see James Harden take the floor for the first time?
After arriving in Philadelphia and clearing physicals, the 76ers have announced that James Harden will remain out past the All-Star break to rehabilitate his left hamstring. Additionally, Harden will not participate in the All-Star game to ensure a full recovery. Harden will continue to participate in on-court drills and was spotted today getting shots up at the 76ers practice facilities.
Harden has missed a handful of games this season, including the last four contests for the Nets due to a tight hamstring. So it isn’t surprising the Sixers want to ensure the 10x All-Star is fully healthy before putting him back on the court. After all, the 76ers are in a much more comfortable position in the East standings, which allows them to give guys like Harden needed rest to come back 100-percent healthy.
The Sixers only have two more games until the All-Star break, Tuesday against the Celtics and Thursday in Milwaukee. While it does suck that 76ers fans won’t get their first real look at Harden donning the #1 until late February, making sure Harden is fully healthy with a potential deep playoff run in sight is the smart move.
It is clear the hamstring was something James Harden not only played through but affected his play before he was dealt to the Sixers. His last game in a Nets uniform was a brutal loss to the Kings where the former MVP went 2-11 from the field en route to four points. How much of a factor his hamstring had in that performance versus the fact he wanted a trade will never be known, but it was one of Harden’s worst outings nonetheless.
Injuries have impacted Harden’s playing time heavily over the last couple years, and the Sixers should take no risks with a title run in their sights. Not to mention the fact we now know Harden cannot pick up his player option until the offseason, despite previous reports. The best course of action is to proceed with extreme caution in the health of any 76ers stars, James Harden included.
The 76ers have certainly found ways to win with the way Embiid and Tobias Harris have played as of late. The next two games being the Celtics and Bucks on the road is tough, but they should be able to take care of at least Boston on home court. You go into the All-Star Break 35-23, and come out with a fully healthy James Harden ready to give the NBA a run for its money.
The bottom line is until the 76ers made the right decision prioritizing the overall health of James Harden and shutting him down until post All-Star break. While it sucks Sixers fans won’t get to properly welcome Harden to the team until March 2nd, by then you’ll get a fully healthy Harden ready to drop his own 40-point triple-double on the Knicks to a sold-out crowd.
Mandatory Credit: Mary Altaffer