FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Reigning NBA MVP and Philadelphia 76ers superstar Joel Embiid said Thursday he’s happy to have James Harden back with the team and not be a distraction, but the Sixers The team’s focus is on establishing their basic offensive and defensive concepts under new coach Nick Nurse.
“I don’t know,” Embiid said when asked about his expectations for Harden’s level of involvement after Harden participates in his second straight practice. “He’s training with us. That’s all we know.”
“But that’s not our focus. We’re focused on offense and defense, figuring out how to play together.
“As a team, we just focus on what we have to learn and learn as quickly as possible. We don’t have a lot of time. We want to win and that’s our goal.”
Unlike Wednesday, when Harden had already walked out of the Moby Arena gym when media entered the practice facility after Harden’s first training camp appearance, Harden was still shooting shots on the court in Colorado when media arrived Thursday.
After a few minutes, he left the gym, eventually returned, sat down to chat with old friend and teammate P.J. Tucker, and then left.
Harden didn’t cause any problems, though, and Embiid said he didn’t cause any disruption to his teammates — though he added that in some ways, the situation was different than when Philadelphia found itself in this situation with Ben. Simmons two years ago.
“I think this group is a little different than it was a few 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 anyone was distracted.”
Harden’s uncertainty puts more pressure on Tyrese Maxey to take another step forward as a playmaker — something Maxey said is an important priority.
And, at least in the first few days of practice, Embiid said he was impressed with Maxey’s passing, making it possible for the fourth-year guard to realize Embiid’s vision for him. Back when the offseason starts.
“I told him before the summer started, I just told him, if you learn how to make these pocket passes, you’re going to be an All-Star,” Embiid said with a laugh, before adding, “I’m going to make sure you’re an All-Star. star.
“So I think he’s worked hard all summer on his game and 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 It’s hard when you play with a different team and a different scheme and you have to figure it out on the fly. But we’re here to help him.”