Sixers Won’t Be Penalized For Harden’s Unavailability

The NBA has concluded its investigation into James Harden‘s absence last Thursday when the Sixers faced the Bucks on national television, according Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report and TNT, who reports (via Twitter) that Philadelphia isn’t expected to be penalized.

The league’s new player participation policy stipulates that players who have made All-Star or All-NBA teams within the past three seasons need to have an approved absence to miss national TV games. Harden was an All-Star in both 2021 and 2022.

As Bobby Marks of ESPN noted last week when the investigation began, injuries, personal reasons and rare or unusual circumstances are considered valid excuses for star players missing national TV games. Harden wasn’t hurt at the time, but the NBA may have justified a lack of punishment for either of the other two categories — Harden had been away from the team for personal reasons for 10 days leading up to that contest, and might not have been in game shape.

Since the Sixers are trading Harden to the Clippers, punishing Philadelphia for his absence last week probably would have just taken a little bit of shine off a major news story. That also may have played a factor in the league’s decision, but that’s just speculation on my part.

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