James Harden, Sixers Singled Out By NBA Champion After Doc Rivers’ Firing

James Harden

Getty James Harden of the Philadelphia 76ers

Former NBA champion and ESPN Analyst Kendrick Perkins called out both James Harden and the Philadelphia 76ers following their decision to fire Doc Rivers on the May 19 episode of First Take.

Perkins explained why he believes Joel Embiid should want Harden out of Philadelphia on top of Embiid himself demanding a trade away from the Sixers.

“To be honest with you, I think Joel Embiid should want Harden to walk. I think he deserves better than James Harden, and if it comes to Harden making the decision on who the coach is gonna be, then I think Joel Embiid should force his way out because here’s the thing, it’s bad enough that they didn’t even consult or even ask Joel Embiid about Doc Rivers or whether or not he wanted to keep Doc Rivers, that’s insulting right there because this is your league MVP.”

Perkins elaborated further on why he feels Embiid should be insulted by how the Sixers handled the Doc Rivers’ situation.

“This is your franchise guy. He has led the league in scoring two years in a row. You at least have to ask him (about Rivers). This is not about James Harden, and this is the problem that I have. If I’m Joel Embiid, there’s no way in hell I’m trusting Daryl Morey with the love affair that he has with James Harden, that he’s gonna do right by Joel Embiid.”

Knicks ‘Watching’ Joel Embiid’s Availability

After Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Harden is expected to go back to the Houston Rockets in a May 19 article, Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News reported that the New York Knicks are watching for Embiid, including that they’ve kept their eye on him for some time and their interest has only grown since their season ended.

“Been told since midseason that Joel Embiid is the guy to watch for the Knicks, and Philly’s playoff flameout only intensified that belief,” Bondy wrote.

Bondy added that it would be tough for the Knicks and Sixers to agree to a trade involving Embiid because of what would be out of the Knicks’ control.

“That I have no idea. It would be very complicated and require many things to happen that are not in Knicks control,” Bondy wrote.

Joel Embiid ‘Shocked’ & ‘Disappointed’ By Doc Rivers’ Firing

Sixers’ President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey spoke with the media on May 17 after the Sixers had fired Rivers. Morey talked about Embiid’s reaction to Rivers’ firing as well as one of the trades Morey made.

“They had a strong relationship,” Morey said before pivoting to follow another train of thought about an unspecified trade the Sixers had made. “I have to make tough calls all the time with trades. Joel was disappointed. … Some of it was [that] he didn’t know the player we were getting in the trade, who ended up helping us, but he was disappointed in the players that went out. I think it’s natural to be very close with the people in the locker room.”

Morey gave more details regarding Embiid’s relationship with Rivers and how Embiid factors into his search for a new coach.

“He was very close with Coach Rivers, and yeah, he was shocked about the change,” Morey said. “It’s my job to help convince him that the new coach is someone that he’ll have a great relationship with as well.”

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