After a subpar showing all season long, some serious questions have surfaced about James Harden's future and his status as a superstar in this league.
With a very crucial summer on the horizon, there's a chance that Harden could miss out on getting a big-time extension from Philly. If he does, Isiah Thomas says the implications will be far-reaching:
“There are max players, and then there are max players who have different status,” Thomas explained (h/t NBA TV on Twitter). “LeBron James, Kevin Durant — they’re max players and they got A+ status. And then there are other max players in the league who don’t have A+ status, but they still have max status. Now, if you don’t have max status, and you’re James Harden, you’ve been at that level, then you gonna get treated a little different by the rest of the league, the officials, the fans, and your teammates.”
Harden, 33, is a 10x All-Star, 3x Scoring Champ, and 1x MVP. He is widely considered one of the greatest scorers ever. Recently, though, he hasn't played like it.
During the regular season, Harden averaged just 21 points on 40% shooting. In the playoffs, he has barely been shooting at all, even going 0-2 during the second half of Game 6. It was a horrid showing for James, who is quickly wearing out his welcome in Philadelphia:
"That performance by James Harden requires an investigation," said Stephen A. Smith. "How in God's name do you go 22 minutes in the 2nd half and attempt 1 shot? It was a horrific performance, anemic, an impotent performance by James Harden. And I'm really interested in seeing what the Philadelphia 76ers are going to do with Doc Rivers because I smell something..."
Until the Beard starts producing superstar numbers again, he won't be treated like one. In Houston, he was the guy, he was in charge, and he had the favor and admiration of fans.
Since his departure, his play has only produced drama and disappointment. If things don't turn around soon, teams might give up hope for good that he can ever be the guy he used to be.