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Mike D. Sykes, II

Daryl Morey, James Harden and the 76ers are putting the NBA’s new rest policy to the test

Welcome to Layup Lines, For the Win’s basketball newsletter. Subscribe here to get it delivered to your inbox every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Have feedback for the Layup Lines Crew? Leave your questions, comments and concerns through this brief reader survey. Now, here’s Mike Sykes.

Howdy, folks! Welcome back to Layup Lines. Thanks so much for rocking with us.

I know we’ve gotten a lot of James Harden controversy this week and we’ve already parsed through a bunch of it. But the layers just keep coming as we keep peeling back.

The NBA’s new player participation policy might be an issue for Daryl Morey and the 76ers when it comes to how to treat James Harden moving forward.

The league is investigating whether the Sixers had a valid reason to sit Harden in Thursday night’s game, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The policy is basically there to make sure star players actually play when they’re healthy.  If there’s no injury or no reason to sit.

The 76ers sat Harden for conditioning reasons in Thursday night’s opener. But, technically, there was no injury hampering him. He probably could’ve played, truth be told. But Philly kept him out anyway.

Under these new rules, something like that would’ve needed to be approved by the league before it happened. That’s why we are where we are.

However, I think we should be afraid that this could set a bad precedent here.

Of course, the league should want stars to play when they can play. But a harsh penalty here would put the 76ers in a strange situation. It’d force Philly to play Harden when he actively does not seem to want to play for that team anymore. He didn’t practice. He didn’t end the preseason with the 76ers. You can’t play a player after all of that.

Not only would it potentially put him at risk for injury because of his conditioning, but it’d also send the wrong message to the rest of the team. Look at what Harden gets to get away with while not putting in the same work that everyone else is. It just wouldn’t be a good look.

Should the league find that Philadelphia did something wrong here, the team will be forced to play Harden — even if the Sixers don’t feel he’s ready to play. And that might not be what’s best for their basketball team.

Every situation is different. The context here is important. The 76ers do seem to have a valid reason for sitting Harden in this instance because he hasn’t played or practiced with the team.

The NBA should consider that. I don’t think we see a harsh penalty here. At most, Philly probably gets a warning. And they’ll need to figure out how to handle Harden moving forward.

But doing anything more here feels like it’d be a problem. The NBA doesn’t need to go too hard on this one.

Smells like money

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Yesterday’s price is not today’s price for an NBA team. I’m old enough to remember when the Bensons bought the Pelicans for $338 million back in 2012. That was just 11 years ago.

Now? The Charlotte freaking Hornets just sold for $3 billion. That’s one of the worst teams in the NBA, folks.

Forbes just released its latest NBA franchise valuation numbers and these look so wild to me. So. Much. Money.

My takeaways: The Clippers being in the top five here without a championship is sort of wild to me. I guess that new building has a ton of value behind it. They’re gaining on the Lakers, folks.

Plus, that Warriors number is WILD. I knew it’d be high. But just seeing it feels pretty ridiculous. Clearly that enormous luxury tax bill is worth it.

If this is where the numbers are now, I wonder where they’ll be in 2030. It’s going to be interesting. One thing is for sure, though. Don’t ever let the NBA tell you that it’s broke again. There’s plenty of cash to go around.

Keep climbing, Kevin Durant

(Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

Kevin Duran just climbed up another wrung on the all-time great ladder. He moved into 12th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, passing up the great Hakeem Olajuwon. He scored his 26,947th point on Thursday night against the Lakers.

Bryan Kalbrosky put that in a bit of perspective for us this morning.

“Last night was a special night for Kevin Durant as he passed Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon to become the NBA’s No. 12 leading scorer of all time.

This was an especially impressive accomplishment from Durant as he has unfortunately missed quite a bit of time during his professional career due to injury. In fact, Durant is the only player on the NBA’s top 20 all-time leading scorers list to play less than 1,000 career regular season games.”

Bryan goes deeper with a hilarious anecdote from Durant that you should read further on here. It’ll draw a chuckle or two out of you.

But, on a serious note, getting back to Durant’s place on the league’s scoring list, there’s a solid chance he will move into the top 10 this season. There’s also a chance he’ll pass Shaquille O’Neal (28, 596) this year.

Durant scored 1,366 points in 47 games last season between the Nets and Suns. It’s hard to pencil Durant in for another 47 games considering his health complications over the years, but let’s say he plays 60 games this year and scores around 1,400 points. That easily gets him into the top 10 and also would edge him a bit closer to that 30,000-point margin.

Here’s to a healthy season for Durant. Please, basketball gods. Make this happen.


— It’s so wild that this photo of LeBron is real. This dude is impossible. Bryan Kalbrosky has more.

— Kawhi Leonard is a basketball nut. He’s pulling from the WNBA for some of his signature moves on the court. Here’s more from Meghan Hall.

The NBA’s flopping policy is off to an excellent start. Just don’t ask Knicks fans about it.

— The Victor Wembanyama and Tim Duncan comparisons live on because of this eerie stat line. Here’s Bryan with more.

That’s all, folks. Thanks so much for reading Layup Lines this week. We’ll be back with more for you next week!

Til then. ✌️


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