Fans in Philadelphia eager to see James Harden make his debut for the 76ers will have to wait a little longer. On Monday, the Sixers announced that Harden will be sidelined through the All-Star break as he continues to nurse the left hamstring injury that he suffered as a member of the Brooklyn Nets prior to the trade deadline move that landed him in Philly. As a result, Harden will not participate in Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game, despite being selected as a reserve.
The Sixers have two more games prior to the All-Star break — on Tuesday at home against the Boston Celtics and on Thursday against the defending-champion Bucks in Milwaukee. They won’t have Harden’s services for either of those contests. Their first game after the break is on Friday, Feb. 25 against the Timberwolves in Minnesota, so that’s a possible debut date for Harden, unless they want him to debut at home. In that case, their next home game is against the New York Knicks on March 2.
The good news for the Sixers is that Harden has already passed his physical, and he participated in his first practice with the team on Monday.
Given the extra rest that will be afforded by the All-Star break, it makes sense that the team wants Harden to take advantage of it so that he’s fully healthy and good to go when he ultimately makes his debut. After all, the Sixers will need Harden to be at, or near, his best if they hope to make a deep playoff run this season.
Whenever Harden does ultimately make his debut for Philadelphia, basketball fans will be get to see the NBA’s latest dynamic duo consisting of Harden and current MVP frontrunner Joel Embiid, who is amped about the opportunity to play alongside a player of Harden’s caliber.
“You talk about guys that I’ve played with, he’s probably gonna be the best yet, based on what he’s accomplished in his career so far,” Embiid said of Harden last week. “He is one of the best players in the league, MVP. I’m pretty excited. You add someone like that your chances to win a championship get even bigger, so I’m just excited to get on with it and try to figure out how to put it all together as a team and go from there.”
Harden will be sporting a slightly new look when he debuts for Philadelphia. After wearing No. 13 for the entirety of his career, he will sport No. 1 with the Sixers, as the No. 13 is hanging in the rafters courtesy of Wilt Chamberlain.