James Harden out until after All-Star Break

James Harden out until after All-Star Break

The drama over the Ben Simmons situation in Philadelphia finally ended last week when the 76ers shipped the point guard to the Brooklyn Nets along with Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, and two first-round picks, in exchange for James Harden and Paul Millsap.

Although the trade was finalized on February 10th, fans of the 76ers will have to wait until at least after the NBA All-Star break to see their newest superstar in action. Harden will be out until after the big weekend as he is suffering from a hamstring strain. He also missed his final few games in Brooklyn due to the injury.

“I think it’s more to make sure he’s right, healthy, and ready to go,” 76ers head coach Doc Rivers told reporters on Monday when asked why the decision was made to sit Harden for the next week.

He won’t be available for the 76ers until at least February 25th when they visit the Minnesota Timberwolves. He could make his home debut at Wells Fargo Center on March 2nd against the New York Knicks if everything goes according to plan. The team has already started to get him familiar with everything as he was with the squad during Monday’s practice.

“We didn’t do anything live, but he did all the skeleton [drill] work, all the defensive walk-through stuff, all the shooting,” Rivers said. “He did everything everybody else did. Obviously, he’s a high-IQ basketball player, so the stuff we do, he does anyway, and the other stuff we threw him out there, and he kind of figured it out.”

The 76ers will be the third team Harden has played for in the last two years, as he was initially traded to the Brooklyn Nets from the Houston Rockets last season after demanding to be moved. He was originally drafted by the Oklahoma City Thunder but was traded to the Rockets after just three seasons.

“I’m focused on both,” Rivers said when asked about whether he had been focusing more on the team’s upcoming games or Harden’s debut. “But it’s not hard. Listen, putting James Harden into an offense is not that hard. It really isn’t. I mean, he’s just a terrific basketball player, so you don’t need to overcomplicate it. You know where he’s been great at, you know which direction he wants to go, and so you put him on those sides of the floor.

“A couple of the things we run, today our guys automatically flipped it without me saying a word. [A play called] delay four rubs, we always run it the opposite way. I didn’t say a word and Tyrese ran it on the opposite side of the floor. They just did it. So that will happen, and when you coach a guy, you find out other things he does that you didn’t know he can do, and that will happen.”

It’ll be interesting to see how the Harden move ultimately pans out for Philadelphia but considering Simmons wasn’t even playing it has to be viewed as a positive trade for everyone involved.