James Harden's absence from 76ers' road trip reportedly prompts NBA investigation

OCT. 31 UPDATE: The Philadelphia 76ers reportedly traded James Harden to the Los Angeles Clippers early Tuesday morning, according to multiple reports.

James Harden's absence from the Philadelphia 76ers' season-opening road trip continues to draw attention.

The NBA is currently investigating his availability to "determine whether an approved reason exists for his lack of participation," ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported.

The 10-time All-Star won't play when his team opens its regular season against Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday night. He's not expected to be present for Philadelphia's matchup at the Toronto Raptors on Saturday, either.

Hours before news of the league's investigation broke, Bleacher Report's Chris Haynes reported Harden attempted to join the Sixers for both road games. He was reportedly stopped from getting on the plane by a security official.

This came after Harden had been away from the team for 10 days. The guard reportedly no-showed at practice to spend time in Houston.

He showed up to Philadelphia's facilities with his bags packed on the day the team was scheduled to leave, prompting the coaching staff's decision to keep him in Philadelphia so the team wouldn't be distracted, according to Yahoo Sports senior NBA reporter Vincent Goodwill.

May 7, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden (1) against the Boston Celtics during game four of the 2023 NBA playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
The Philadelphia 76ers reportedly are under investigation again for guard James Harden missing their season-opening road trip. (Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports)

According to Haynes' report, the team wanted Harden to stay home and work out in preparation for his season debut. But Harden was reportedly under the impression this was only a recommendation.

In light of the NBA's new load management or Player Participation Policy, the league has reason to dig into the 76ers' handling of Harden as the team's campaign begins.

Among other requirements, the league's new policy calls for teams to make sure star players are available for nationally televised games. If rest is necessary, the rules mandate the players still attend games so fans can see them.

There are exceptions to these statutes, including personal reasons and injuries. The league will look to determine whether Harden's situation qualifies for any of those allowances.

It's their second investigation into Harden and the Sixers surrounding this season. The NBA launched an inquiry when Harden stood in front of a group of schoolchildren during a trip to China in August and said, "Daryl Morey is a liar and I will never be a part of an organization that he's a part of." The NBA fined Harden $100,000 for his comments, the maximum fine it can give.