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July 10, 2023

Sixers' Patrick Beverley makes hopes clear: 'Hell yeah' he wants James Harden in Philly

Patrick Beverley says he already feels at home in Philadelphia.

It was assumed that Patrick Beverley would fit right in as a Philadelphia citizen long before he ever signed to play for the Sixers, though if you've tracked his career up to this point, you hardly needed to call it an assumption. He is a tough, defensive-minded player who grinded his way through Europe in order to create his opportunity back home, a "blue collar" player insofar as a member of the NBA fraternity can be one. 

From the mouth of the man himself, Beverley buys into that idea of being Philadelphia-ready, too. He spent his first morning in the city at a pottery class at the Bok building in South Philly, and his first impression of the city has been a good one.

"The people here are very different than what I've been used to my last couple of seasons," Beverley said Monday. "Everybody's welcoming, no matter what color no matter what race. It's not like crabs in a barrel, everyone trying to pull each other down to kind of get up. Everyone here is working together collectively for a common goal."

"The ladies from the pottery made it easy, like I was from there, like I was a student. Gave me shit, gave me a hard time, like yeah, you doing this shit wrong but it's okay it's your first time. Very honest with me, I love that about the city already, the honesty of it. You appreciate that as a human."

If nothing else, Beverley is honest, perhaps to a fault at times. The same competitive juice that inspires him to challenge LeBron James for the title of the best team in L.A. is what has allowed him to carve out a niche as a role player despite his physical limitations. He gets the most out of his six feet plus an inch, though he joked Monday that he wished his mom had found a dad who was a little bit taller.

So why is Beverley here? On the surface, it seems that the Sixers could be getting into the Beverley business slightly too late. He has tailed off as a shooter over the past couple of seasons after a long run as a good-to-great outside marksman — Beverley shot 38 percent from deep or better across six consecutive seasons from 2015-21, dipping all the way to 33.5 percent last year. It's a trend he hopes to reverse this season, though part of his explanation for that problem will not get better here.

"I went from a team where I played five, six years with the Rockets, and then four, five years with the Clippers. You know exactly what you're getting into, you know where your shots are coming from, you're working on your shots. I go from there, I go to Minnesota and I'm trying to get a team to the playoffs, and we do. I leave there to go to LA, just it's not one place not one time, not knowing the offense. But that doesn't, it's like riding a bike, I can shoot that thing. So I'm excited, I'm excited to display that here."

Continuity will be in short supply in Philadelphia, even more so if the Sixers move on from James Harden. The Sixers lost several free agents off of their bench this summer, with Paul Reed's return only becoming official late Sunday night. There's also the new head coach to consider, with Nick Nurse expected to implement his own ideas on how things should work in the months to come, a process that started with Nurse coaching their Summer League team in Utah. At least in Nurse's case, there's a small piece of shared history, as the two once spent a few games together in the G-League.

The Harden factor is tough to overstate. Early in his meeting with the media, Beverley stressed the importance of camaraderie, noting the talent Philadelphia had on hand but also the work they needed to do in order to tie the team together. Those tasks would seem impossible while your co-star and primary offensive creator is in pursuit of a move out of town.

While Beverley made sure to note he doesn't make decisions at the front office level, his desire to play with Harden was cited as part of the reason he came to Philadelphia in the first place. And while there is exterior skepticism that Harden will be convinced to return, Beverley joined a chorus of Sixers (including Joel Embiid) who have advocated for Harden to rejoin the team to try to pursue a title.

"You can’t redo a James Harden," Beverley said on Monday, "so hell yeah you want him here. Hell yeah, you want him in the locker room. Hell yeah, you want him first day of practice. One of my decisions coming here was because James Harden was here. So I hope he stays. Hope that everybody can kind of work something out and put that behind us and kind of move forward. I think it’s important."

"James, I love you bro, stay. But yeah, James is a really good friend of mind, really, really good friend of mine. Our moms are best friends, me coming into the NBA with Houston, it was me and him, six years, my starting buddy. I'm very familiar with James, I'm excited, I'm excited to kind of get it going. He knows I'm here, so we'll see." 

With or without Harden, Beverley will be tasked with trying to help the Sixers escape the NBA wilderness after over two decades of hitting a wall in the second round. While Beverley is a smaller piece here than in previous stops, he is familiar with the idea of trying to change the narrative around a franchise, between his days playing for teams like the Clippers and Wolves. 

At 35, he seems to have the same energy and drive that allowed him to get here in the first place, the hope being that his body will continue to cooperate as his mind keeps battling. His role could change dramatically depending on what else happens this offseason, or even based on the nightly demands of the team, and Beverley says all he can do is stay ready, continuing to grind the only way he knows how.

"My road to get here was very different than anyone else's. My road to get here was predicated on a foundation that was built on hard work. Now that I'm here, that shit don't change no matter what my salary is," Beverley said. "My work ethic will be the same, it's going to be work hard, work hard, work hard, and that's all I know."

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