Embiid says Harden not a distraction to Sixers

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — The NBA’s reigning Most Valuable Player, Philadelphia 76ers superstar Joel Embiid, said Thursday that he was happy James Harden was back with the team and hadn’t been a distraction, but that the focus for the 76ers is on installing their basic offensive and defensive philosophies under new coach Nick Nurse.

“I don’t know,” Embiid said, when asked what his expectations were for Harden’s level of involvement after a second straight practice that Harden participated in. “He’s practicing with us. That’s all we know.

“But we’re not focused on that. We’re focused on getting the offense together and defense together, figuring out how to play together.

“As a team, we’re just focused on what we’ve got to learn, and learn as soon as possible. We don’t have a lot of time. We want to win, and that’s the goal.”

Unlike Wednesday, when Harden was already out of the Moby Arena gym when the media was let into practice at Colorado State after his first participation in training camp, Harden was still on the court getting up shots when the media arrived Thursday.

He left the gym a few minutes later, only to eventually return, take a seat and chat with longtime friend and teammate P.J. Tucker before leaving.

Harden, though, has caused no issues, with Embiid saying that he hasn’t been any sort of distraction to his teammates — though adding that it’s a different situation, on a few fronts, than when Philadelphia found itself in this situation with Ben Simmons two years ago.

“I think this group is a little different than a couple years ago,” he said. “[We have] a new coaching staff and everything that’s going on. I think, you know, it’s been easy [to focus]. I don’t think anybody has been distracted.”

Harden’s uncertain involvement has put more pressure on Tyrese Maxey to take another step forward in his playmaking ability — something Maxey said was a huge priority.

And, at least through the first few days of practice, it appears that work is paying dividends, with Embiid remarking about how impressed he’s been with Maxey’s passing — allowing the fourth-year guard to potentially follow through on a vision Embiid had for him back at the start of the offseason.

“I told him right before the summer started, I just told him if you learn how to make those pocket passes, you’re going to be an All-Star,” Embiid said with a smile, before adding, “I’m going to make sure you’re an All-Star.

“So I think he’s been working on his game all summer and he’s done a great job. He’s got a long way to go. There’s going to be a lot of challenges along the way. It’s all about staying positive, especially because when you play different teams and different schemes and you have to figure it out on the fly, that’s hard. But we’re here to help him.”

Source link

Leave a Comment