After Frosty Houston Break up, Harden Says He’s an ‘Elite Teammate’

Days after telling reporters he didn’t suppose the Houston Rockets have been proficient sufficient to be aggressive, James Harden stated 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, specifically, referred to Harden’s conduct main as much as this week’s commerce to the Nets as “disrespectful.”

“I wasn’t disrespectful to anybody,” stated 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 via 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 adequate 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 night time, following a blowout loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, Harden stated that he didn’t suppose the Rockets had the expertise or chemistry to be aggressive and added, “It’s one thing that I don’t suppose might 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 checklist of his most well-liked groups.

When requested Friday if he regretted how issues led to Houston, the place he played more than eight seasons and received a Most Precious Participant Award, Harden stated: “Yeah, I remorse as a result of I’m not the kind of man who — I don’t want the eye, particularly the unfavorable vitality, the unfavorable 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 objective 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 few of the league’s finest offensive seasons ever. Nevertheless, he has additionally developed a popularity for clashing with teammates and for having less-than-desirable conditioning. (On Friday, when requested to explain his conditioning, Harden smiled and said “Great!”)

In Wednesday’s blockbuster trade, the Nets gave up a bevy of draft picks and proficient younger gamers corresponding to Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert. Coach Steve Nash stated on Friday that Harden must be obtainable to play Saturday in opposition to the Orlando Magic.

Harden publicly detailed for the primary time why he needed to depart 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 stated 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 prime 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 stated. “And as time went on and free company and issues like that began to go on, it was like, effectively, I felt like we didn’t have an opportunity.”

He added, “As a lot as I like the town of Houston and I beloved being there, I believe I’m on the level in my profession the place it’s not about cash. It’s not about the rest however having an opportunity at reaching the final word objective, which is profitable on the highest stage.”

Harden stated 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 stated. “It won’t. I believe all of us are very sensible, are very unselfish, and we all know what’s at stake.”

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