After convincing the team to let him play on Friday against Atlanta, Nets star James Harden agreed to take a rest day on Sunday vs. Detroit, as Zach Braziller of The New York Post details. Head coach Steve Nash said that Harden essentially forced his way into the lineup on Friday, but the club has been concerned about his workload (36.2 minutes per game) and was happy he agreed to take a game off on Sunday.
“He had a heavy stretch of games and we’re gonna try to steal some games for these guys here and there. And fortunately, he was open enough for [this] to be the night,” Nash said, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “So we’ll miss him [on Sunday] but it’s important and it pays this forward hopefully to the end of the season.”
Harden’s 20.8 PPG, .404 FG%, and .337 3PT% so far this season represent his lowest marks since his Oklahoma City days (the three-point rate is a career worst). While Sunday’s day off could help recharge him, Harden may just not be the player he was during his prime, Braziller writes in a separate story for The Post.
Harden and Kevin Durant are both former MVPs, but it has been clear so far this season that the ex-Rocket is Brooklyn’s No. 2 option behind Durant – who scored a season-high 51 points in Sunday’s win – rather than a true co-star, says Braziller.
Here’s more from around the Atlantic:
- Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens has been in Serbia as of late, attending multiple ABA League games, according to a Eurohoops report. Stevens’ scouting trip has focused on Yam Madar, a Celtics second-round pick in 2020 who is currently playing for KK Partizan and could be brought stateside as soon as next season.
- The Sixers have held their own without Ben Simmons available this season, particularly in games Joel Embiid has played, but they still lack a consistent second option on offense to complement Embiid, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Pompey suggests that Tobias Harris, Seth Curry, and Tyrese Maxey are solid players, but are better suited to be third or fourth options for a legit contender.
- In an Insider-only article for ESPN.com, Bobby Marks and Kevin Pelton outline why the Sixers will be hard-pressed to acquire a top-25 player in any Simmons trade, and consider which borderline stars may be realistic targets. Brandon Ingram, Domantas Sabonis, and CJ McCollum are among the players discussed by Marks and Pelton.
- Sixers rookie Jaden Springer sustained a concussion during a G League game and will be sidelined until he clears the concussion protocols, tweets Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com. The 19-year-old hasn’t been a part of the NBA rotation at all this season, appearing briefly in just one game.