James Harden was left until the last pick when teams were drafted for the NBA All-Star Game by the two captains, LeBron James and Harden’s former Nets teammate, Kevin Durant.
James, who ended up with Harden as the final selection before The Beard dropped out due to a hamstring injury, also left out the 10-time All-Star altogether on Saturday while rattling off a list of prominent players drafted by Thunder general manager Sam Presti .
James was responding to a question in Cleveland about Thunder rookie Josh Giddey, who joined Oscar Robertson (1961) this month as the only rookies to record three consecutive triple-doubles.
“The MVP over there is Sam Presti. He’s the MVP,” LeBron said. “Josh Giddey is great. Sam Presti, I don’t understand this guy’s eye for talent. He drafted KD, Russ [Westbrook], Jeff Green, Serge Ibaka, Reggie Jackson, Josh Giddey and the list goes on and on and on. This guy is pretty damn good.”
Harden was the No. 3 overall pick by the Thunder in 2009 and played for Oklahoma City for three seasons before a trade to the Rockets in 2012. He was acquired by the Nets in January 2021, then dealt to the 76ers earlier this month for a package headed by Ben Simmons .
James Harden and LeBron JamesGetty Images (2)
Sixers center Joel Embiid made his case for league MVP among a crowded field that also includes past winners Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic, Stephen Curry and several others.
“I don’t want to push for the whole thing, but the way I’ve been playing speaks for itself,” Embiid said, before alluding to the Harden-Simmons swap. “Especially with everything we went through, the drama this whole year, obviously missing a big piece, and then everything that happened to our team, and the way our team is set up. … But it always goes back to winning. As long as we win, I’ll be at that level and have a chance to win it all and win the MVP.”
Suns guard Chris Paul did not rule himself out of the All-Star Game, but the 12-time All-Star’s right hand was wrapped and he indicated he may take some time off after the break due to a hand injury. The first-place Suns have a 6 ¹/₂-game lead over the Warriors in the Western Conference.
“We’re 48-10 and if we do miss some time I know the guys are going to hold it down,” said Paul, who has undergone four hand or wrist surgeries during his career. “There’s always going to be a frustration with injury. My hand surgeon is part of my family now.”