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

Days after telling reporters he didn’t assume the Houston Rockets have been gifted 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 vital barbs by his former Rockets teammates, together with the previous All-Stars John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins, particularly, 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 acquired 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 an entire, 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 night time, following a blowout loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, Harden stated 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 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 listing of his most popular groups.

When requested Friday if he regretted how issues led to Houston, the place he played more than eight seasons and gained a Most Beneficial 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 damaging power, the damaging 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 lately has had a number of the league’s greatest 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 said “Great!”)

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

Harden publicly detailed for the primary time why he wished to depart Houston. He cited the low season departures of Daryl Morey, who resigned as Houston’s common 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 dropping to the Lakers within the second spherical of the playoffs final season.

“You look from prime to backside: the final supervisor leaving to Mike D’Antoni leaving to re-evaluating our personnel and seeing if we had sufficient to compete with the most effective 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, properly, I felt like we didn’t have an opportunity.”

He added, “As a lot as I really like town of Houston and I cherished 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 last word objective, which is successful on the highest stage.”

Harden stated he had not spoken along with his new teammates Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant about how they might coexist on the ground.

“For us, it’d take some time,” Harden stated. “It may not. I believe all of us are very good, are very unselfish, and we all know what’s at stake.”

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