As if this offseason couldn’t be any uglier for the Philadelphia 76ers, it seems like even an attempt to overshadow the angst by uncorking a brand new season may not enough. In fact, it could just be yet another avenue for a brand new headache to reveal itself.
Just recently, the NBA introduced a brand new resting policy to be implemented starting this upcoming season in an attempt to curb the influx of load management. While certain reservations are still in place for injured players, the rule was specifically crafted to target star players who routinely miss games for rest and compromise national TV broadcasts.
The 76ers, which house Joel Embiid and James Harden, will be especially given a harder look when either misses contests this season. For the latter, however, this could prove to be awfully problematic even though he is qualified for some exceptions to the rule.
Why the NBA’s new rest policy could force the Philadelphia 76ers into another awful situation
While Harden’s situation remains cryogenic, a holdout could very well be in the cards despite the new CBA stipulation threatening his free agency next year. That creates an interesting dynamic with the rest policy set to kick in.
However, ESPN’s Bobby Marks said that the new rule will interdict the 76ers from a theoretical agreement with Harden to purposefully sit out games until an acceptable trade offer is tendered by another team. Damian Lillard is also in the same boat considering his similar ordeal with the Portland Trail Blazers.
"If Portland and Lillard come to an agreement that we’re going to shut you down, the NBA is going to step in and say we’re going to fine you and we’re going to fine you significantly.We are going to see how it plays out with Damian Lillard and James Harden [who has requested a trade from Philadelphia]. The days of shutting down a player that maybe is involved in trade talks is no longer going to happen any more."
While Philadelphia has shown a degree of warmth to the idea of Harden continuing to suit up for the team, the former MVP’s temperamental situation could make the thought of playing him to be a passive-aggressive conflict. It’s clear that he will not be in the mindset to actively help the team win games at the cost of his deep distaste of the organization. Operating with him still leveraging his clout for a domineering role could prove to be counterintuitive in the long run.
At this juncture, it would be wiser for the 76ers to operate under the belief that Harden is nothing more than a conjectural presence. However, that he and the team could be forced to awkwardly play along with each other amid such discord will be another amusing — and dispiriting — episode that both parties can hopefully avoid beforehand.