Sixers star Tyrese Maxey comments on James Harden situation

Philadelphia 76ers guard Tyrese Maxey. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Philadelphia 76ers guard Tyrese Maxey. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /
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Philadelphia 76ers star Tyrese Maxey may be looking at a completely different role if James Harden keeps his promise and stays away from the team. The 6-foot-2 guard mainly played off the ball last season as Harden ran the point and orchestrated the offense. Without Harden, that job would go to Maxey who did it effectively when the Ben Simmons drama was going on.

Maxey, a first-round pick in 2020, has experience as a point guard dating back to his college days at Kentucky. His coaches — from John Calipari to Doc Rivers — have always valued his versatility. The 22-year-old is ready to switch things up if needed.

“It will change my role. I’ve been able to play on the ball, I’ve been able to play off the ball,” the talented guard said on the “Maxey on the Mic” podcast. “I’ve been adaptable no matter what situation I’ve been thrown into and it’s funny, every single year it’s been something new … I keep saying it — maybe I should stop saying it — but I keep saying it in interviews and podcasts and meetings and media, and it just keeps happening. But, I mean, if that’s the case then yeah, my role will be different. I’ll probably play a lot more on the ball, and a lot less off the ball. I’ll probably become the primary playmaker, primary ball-handler, but I think we can do it as a committee as well.”

When dissecting a potential committee, Maxey name-dropped Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris as options to handle the ball and run the offense. They have brought the ball up the court in certain sets. He also showered love on De’Anthony Melton and Jaden Springer as guys who are staring down the barrel of more meaningful minutes if Harden does indeed stay in exile.

“It’ll be even more difficult but everybody has to go out there and raise their game,” Maxey said. “And I say everybody … not just Joel. Not just me. Not just Tobias. But that’s everybody who is on the Sixers’ roster. That’s the nature of the business. There’s going to be an opportunity for a lot of guys.”

The Harden situation has cast a gloomy shadow on the Sixers’ offseason, one not likely to see its reflection in the window at the team’s practice facility in Camden once training camp opens in late September.

Harden wants out and refuses to go quietly.

His words and actions back that up. However, Maxey wasn’t ready to declare defeat on Harden’s predetermined departure. If the one-time MVP busted through the doors, everyone in the organization would embrace him.

“Honestly, I’m preparing to play with him or without him,” Maxey said. “That’s just the business side of it. And there’s no love lost I love James to death. If he decided he was going to come back and play with us, I think there’s nobody in this organization that would be upset about that but you just have to understand what he’s going through and pray for him as a brother.”