Sixers Being Investigated For James Harden's Absence From Lineup

The Philadelphia 76ers kick off their season Thursday night in Milwaukee without the services of James Harden. They've told him to stay home, after he reported to the team on Wednesday after being AWOL for 10 days. 

But according to NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA is now investigating Harden's absence from the lineup, given the new "players participation" rules it's enforcing this year. 

It all centers around Philadelphia playing a national TV game, which requires teams to provide the league with a valid explanation for why a healthy recent All-Star isn't playing.  

 "We're looking into the facts around James Harden's availability tonight to determine whether an approved reason exists for his lack of participation," said NBA spokesman Mike Bass.

Philly is reported to want Harden to work himself into game shape with team strength and conditioning coaches, since he held out from the entire preseason. 

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Clippers—the only team Harden has said he wants to be traded to—have started their season on a winning note, and are putting The Beard in the rearview mirror for now. Wojnarowski reported that the Clippers are "stepping back" from any Harden talks for the foreseeable future.

"They are essentially pausing them," said Woj. "They have talked with Philadelphia for months about a trade. They made their best offers for Harden, but now they're going to start this season and see what the team looks like with a healthy Kawhi Leonard and Paul George."

Could the talks pick up again later in the season? Maybe, but no better offers are coming. 

"They know they're the only bidder for James Harden, they're the only team that's made a serious offer, and they don't want to bid against themselves... If you're the Clippers, why offer more when there's fewer and fewer games that Harden can play for you?"

Woj adds that the Sixers may soon start to realize that they aren't going to get any better offers for Harden than what the Clippers have put on the table thus far, in draft picks.

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