Maybe James Harden‘s hamstring tightness was legitimate, after all.
Thought by some to be a ploy to induce a trade from the Nets to the 76ers (that came), Harden’s hamstring injury will delay his Philadelphia debut until after the All-Star game.
John Clark of NBC Sports Philadelphia:
“Doc Rivers says James Harden was not limited at practice today and did everything that the Sixers did
But he is out through the All-Star break rehabbing hamstring
Earliest he could play is Friday, February 25 at Minnesota.”
NBA commissioner Adam Silver will select an All-Star replacement from the Eastern Conference. Bucks guard Jrue Holiday, Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen or Celtics wing Jaylen Brown would be a perfectly reasonable choice. The way he has played lately – including since All-Star voting closed – and given his longer record of stellar play, Raptors forward Pascal also belongs in that mix.
For Harden and the 76ers, an All-Star game is not the priority. Philadelphia offers maybe Harden’s last chance to win a championship while still a star. As Nets general manager Sean Marks said, “The clock is ticking for him.”
Not only does Harden want to be healthy for the playoffs, the 32-year-old wants to be healthy into the offseason. By opting in and extending or opting out and signing a new contract, Harden could this summer secure about $270 million over the next five years.
So, Harden and Philadelphia will take a patient approach – allowing an additional East player from a relatively deep group of viable candidates to become an All-Star.
Credit: NBC Sports