During a tense offseason surrounding the Philadelphia 76ers and James Harden, recently hired head coach Nick Nurse was skeptical he’d get to work with the now Los Angeles Clippers point guard.
“I thought the chances were pretty low,” Nurse told reporters, including the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Keith Pompey, “It kind of went (up and down) a little bit. Once he opted in, I said, ‘Oh, OK, I’m going to get to coach him,’ and then stuff happened.”
Harden began the summer by accepting his $35.6-million player option for the 2023-24 campaign, but he requested a trade soon after.
His frustration about the situation in Philadelphia, particularly with president of basketball operations Daryl Morey, boiled over in August. While running an Adidas marketing event in China, he called Morey a “liar” and said he’d “never be a part of an organization that he’s a part of.” Harden was subsequently fined $100,000.
The longstanding beef between Harden and the 76ers came to an end early Tuesday morning when he was dealt to the Clippers.
Despite Harden’s ill feelings, Nurse applauded his work ethic during his brief time in training camp.
“He was in shape, worked extremely hard, was extremely professional when I was here, and he looked awesome,” said Nurse.
The former Toronto Raptors head coach, who won an NBA title in 2019, is off to a solid 2-1 start with his new squad.
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