Days after telling reporters he didn’t assume the Houston Rockets had been gifted sufficient to be aggressive, James Harden mentioned on Friday that he’s an “elite participant, an elite teammate” and an “elite chief,” in his first feedback as a member of the Nets.
He additionally responded to crucial barbs by his former Rockets teammates, together with the previous All-Stars John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins, particularly, referred to Harden’s habits main as much as this week’s commerce to the Nets as “disrespectful.”
“I wasn’t disrespectful to anybody,” mentioned Harden, who had been the cornerstone of the Rockets since 2012-13. “These guys had simply received there, Houston. I’ve been there for a really very long time. I’ve been by way of all of the ups and downs with that group and I wasn’t disrespectful towards anybody. I simply made a remark that the workforce, as a complete, wasn’t ok to compete for a title, and on the stage of my profession the place I’m now, that’s what I might love.”
In postgame feedback Tuesday evening, following a blowout loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, Harden mentioned that he didn’t assume the Rockets had the expertise or chemistry to be aggressive and added, “It’s one thing that I don’t assume may be fastened.” This got here months after Harden, who confirmed up late to coaching camp, privately requested a commerce from the Rockets. The Nets topped the listing of his most well-liked groups.
When requested Friday if he regretted how issues resulted in Houston, the place he performed greater than eight seasons and gained a Most Worthwhile Participant Award, Harden mentioned: “Yeah, I remorse as a result of I’m not the kind of man who — I don’t want the eye, particularly the detrimental power, the detrimental consideration. Like, I’ve by no means been that man. There have been some issues, I really feel like, out of my character, however the final aim was to get someplace the place I can compete.”
Harden developed into one of many N.B.A.’s marquee gamers in Houston and in recent times has had a number of the league’s finest offensive seasons ever. Nonetheless, he has additionally developed a repute for clashing with teammates and for having less-than-desirable conditioning. (On Friday, when requested to explain his conditioning, Harden smiled and mentioned “Nice!”)
In Wednesday’s blockbuster commerce, the Nets gave up a bevy of draft picks and gifted younger gamers comparable to Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert. Coach Steve Nash mentioned on Friday that Harden ought to be out there to play Saturday towards the Orlando Magic.
Harden publicly detailed for the primary time why he needed to go away Houston. He cited the low season departures of Daryl Morey, who resigned as Houston’s normal supervisor and have become president of the Philadelphia 76ers, and Mike D’Antoni, who left the Rockets and is now an assistant coach for the Nets. Harden mentioned he started rethinking his future in Houston instantly after shedding to the Lakers within the second spherical of the playoffs final season.
“You look from high to backside: the overall supervisor leaving to Mike D’Antoni leaving to re-evaluating our personnel and seeing if we had sufficient to compete with the perfect groups within the league,” he mentioned. “And as time went on and free company and issues like that began to go on, it was like, properly, I felt like we didn’t have an opportunity.”
He added, “As a lot as I like the town of Houston and I liked being there, I believe I’m on the level in my profession the place it’s not about cash. It’s not about anything however having an opportunity at reaching the final word aim, which is profitable on the highest stage.”
Harden mentioned he had not spoken along with his new teammates Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant about how they’d coexist on the ground.
“For us, it would take a while,” Harden mentioned. “It won’t. I believe all of us are very sensible, are very unselfish, and we all know what’s at stake.”