There will be lots of discussion about James Harden. Washed. Deteriorating skills. No longer a Batman. Maybe not even a Robin. I’m not ready to go there yet.
But this is a critical offseason for the Philadelphia 76ers All-Star guard and the franchise — an intricate scenario that involves Harden’s health, his future, his relationships with key figures in the Sixers organization and his ability to coexist with MVP-caliber center Joel Embiid.
The Miami Heat on Thursday eliminated the Sixers 99-90, ending Philadelphia’s season well short of its stated goal: an NBA championship. It is the fifth consecutive season making the playoffs — and second with coach Doc Rivers — that the Sixers failed to reach at least the conference finals.
The Sixers have reasons/excuses for their demise: the Ben Simmons situation that commandeered the first two-thirds of the season, Harden playing OK but definitely not great (more on that topic in a minute), and Embiid’s injuries that slowed him in the playoffs.