PHILADELPHIA–There will be a lot of fallout in the future for the Philadelphia 76ers after sending James Harden to the Los Angeles Clippers. There will be a lot of eyes on both teams to see what comes next as each organization makes its move.
The Sixers will now look to move on and prepare for the next move with the assets acquired in the deal while Harden and the Clippers will look to mesh together on their own chase for a championship.
Coach Nick Nurse admitted on Thursday before a win over the Toronto Raptors that he believed there was a chance he would coach Harden, but it was also a bit of a roller coaster ride for him.
“I think that I thought the chances were pretty low once it kinda went like this a little bit (imitating the ups and downs of a roller coaster),” said Nurse. “When he opted in, I went ‘Oh, I’m gonna get a chance to coach him’ and then stuff happened and I was like ‘Ah’ just kinda up and down a little bit so there was times. Yeah.”
With that being said, when Harden was with the Sixers and practicing before the trade, he was a true professional through it all.
“I will say this, everybody,” Nurse added. “He was in shape, worked extremely hard, was extremely professional while he was here, and he looked awesome. He really did while he was here. Just never could get to the game part of it all.”
Included in the Harden deal was PJ Tucker. The Sixers acquired Tucker early in free agency in 2022 as they signed him to a 3-year deal. His numbers never showed it, but his impact was undeniable and Nurse knows Philadelphia will miss him.
“Listen, we’re gonna miss him,” Nurse explained of Tucker. “I know it’s hard to sometimes believe when you go down, you look at a game, and he’s 0-for-1 and 0, 0, 0, 0, maybe four rebounds, and how impactful he is in a game. I guarantee you there were some guys in our conference who breathed a sigh of relief to see him thrown in that deal.”
There were plenty of times when Tucker changed a game for the Sixers. He would light a fire underneath some guys and really demand more of them to help Philadelphia move forward. That is what isn’t seen in the box score.
“He is a game influencer. A game changer,” Nurse finished on Tucker. “So we’ll miss that. Again, I keep saying it, you’re a coach and you say, ‘Oh, we need some toughness added to our team’ and you goo look at the—he’s right there in this really small group of guys that instantly can bring your team toughness so sad to see him go. I got a lot of time for him. I coached him in Toronto. I really liked him. I wish him well.”