James Harden won't make Philadelphia 76ers debut until at least Tuesday

PHILADELPHIA -- James Harden may officially be a 76er, but his debut will have to wait.

The newly acquired superstar guard did not play Friday against the Oklahoma City Thunder and will not play Saturday against the Cleveland Cavaliers, as he is expected to arrive in Philadelphia this weekend and get looked over by the team's medical personnel.

Harden, who is averaging 22.5 points, 10.2 assists and 8.0 rebounds per game this season, has missed the past week with hamstring tightness. That issue saw him sit out his final three games with the Brooklyn Nets before Thursday's deadline-day blockbuster sent him and veteran big man Paul Millsap to Philadelphia in exchange for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and a pair of first-round picks.

ESPN and other outlets previously reported that Harden had exercised his $47.4 million player option for the 2022-23 season as part of his trade to the 76ers. However, the opt-in was not finalized for procedural reasons, due to the paperwork not being completed in time before the deadline. Harden is still able to opt in and will be eligible to sign a four-year, $223 million extension with Philadelphia in August.

Following their weekend back-to-back, the 76ers' next game is Tuesday against the Boston Celtics.

The player Harden will eventually be sharing a backcourt with, Tyrese Maxey, said it was surreal that someone he grew up watching is now going to be his teammate.

"It's kind of crazy, because he was one of the guys you played with on [NBA] 2K when you were a younger kid," Maxey said after shootaround Friday. "I call him my brother, one of my best friends that I had throughout high school, he was the biggest James Harden fan growing up. I texted him last night, and we talked about it a little bit. He said, 'It's crazy. I played with you, and now you're playing with my favorite player.'

"It's a cool deal, and I can't wait to meet him and get started."

Maxey said Sixers coach Doc Rivers told the team that practices and shootarounds are going to be more intense moving forward as Philadelphia tries to get its new-look roster up to speed.

"It's going to be great," Maxey said of playing alongside Harden and Joel Embiid. "It's two MVP-caliber players on top of what we have here already. I think one thing that's really going to help us is the chemistry and the brotherhood that we have here. It's easy to welcome someone in, no matter who it is, Paul, James, it's easy to welcome people in because of the continuity we have here already. The guys here like each other, like being around each other, like talking to each other and also like playing extremely hard for each other on the court.

"[So we'll] try to make the transition as easy as possible. It's going to be great, and I just can't wait."