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Joel Embiid: James Harden not a distraction in camp

Philadelphia 76ers All-Star center Joel Embiid said Thursday that guard James Harden has not been a distraction so far at training camp.

Harden said over the summer that he never wanted to play for 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey and called the executive a liar. Despite his strong comments, Harden has joined his teammates at camp in Fort Collins, Colo.

This is the second time in three years one of the team’s guards has been disgruntled. Two years ago, Ben Simmons wanted out and eventually got his wish when he was dealt to the Brooklyn Nets for Harden in a multi-player trade.

“I think this group is a little different than a couple years ago,” said Embiid, the reigning NBA MVP. “(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 made his comments about Morey after the 76ers said they were no longer pursuing trade offers for the three-time scoring champion this past summer. The 34-year-old guard picked up his $35.6 million player option in June with the team reportedly seeking to trade him.

Last season, Harden averaged an NBA-best 10.7 assists to go along with 21.0 points and 6.1 rebounds in 58 games. But he struggled with consistency in the playoffs, especially during the 76ers’ seven-game series against the Boston Celtics.

Harden scored 45 points in Philadelphia’s Game 1 victory but combined to score 28 points in the 76ers’ losses in Games 2 and 3. He rebounded to score 42 in the 76ers’ Game 4 win but scored a combined 39 points in the final three games as the Celtics won in a blowout in Game 7.

Despite Harden’s playoff inconsistency and comments this summer, Embiid hasn’t lost faith in the star guard.

“So I think he’s been working on his game all summer and he’s done a great job,” Embiid said. “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.”

–Field Level Media

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