James Harden was as advertised in his introductory press conference with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Three days after the long-awaited move that saw him traded from the Philadelphia 76ers, the former MVP spoke to the media about the circumstances that led to his demand for a trade and what he hopes to achieve in the future. As many could guess, he had a lot to say about the leadership in Philly.
After he himself “Very elitist as an individualAlthough Harden was also great on the team, he came forward to the Sixers’ front office and said he had sacrificed $26 million to play for the team and planned to retire there until they changed their mindsand said, “They didn’t want me.”
The breakdown of Harden’s relationship with Daryl Morey, the Sixers’ president of basketball operations, dominated coverage of his calls to leave the team, particularly when he took a microphone in China and declared, “Daryl Morey is a liar,” another report on Wednesday pointed to Harden never plans to speak to him again.
Harden ratcheted up the rhetoric even further on Thursday, describing his time with the Sixers as “be on a leash.“
“Philly [was] I just change my role, knowing that I can give more, knowing that I can do more, but if you want me to be honest, it’s like being on a leash. From what I understand, in order to get to where we want to go, I had to do my best on offense, whether it’s running the basketball and scoring, and Joel [Embiid] as well as. I never really had that opportunity. I think all of this contributes to where I am today.
It’s easy to scoff at this quote considering Harden led the NBA in assists last season and was an integral part of the Sixers’ offense, but he also posted his lowest usage rate since 2012 (due, no doubt). the presence of league MVP Joel Embiid). .
When asked to extend the leash line, Harden indicated he was more concerned with communication with his coach than actual use on the pitchwhile at the same time the most widely circulated quote of the day was also deleted:
“When I’m on the leash, I don’t mean shooting the basketball every time. I meant, I think the game and I’m a creator on the field, so if I have a voice where I can.” [say] “Hey Coach, I see this, what do you think about it?” then everything is ok. Someone who trusts me or believes in me and understands that I am not a system player, but a system.
“Someone who can have that dialogue with me, who understands, moves forward, figures things out on the fly as games go on and makes adjustments, that’s all that really matters to me. It’s not about me hitting the basketball… I’ve already done that.
Harden wouldn’t be the first to criticize former Sixers coach Doc Rivers’ in-game adjustments.
Of course, the “I’m not a system player, I’m a system” was the most viral moment of the conference, as many people who were ready to label Harden as the ball-dominating team disruptor used it as evidence that he hadn’t. It hasn’t changed. Which he may not have done, but the reaction seemed to confirm an earlier statement from Harden: “They’re always going to take something out of what I say and make it a different story.”
As for when Harden will actually take the court with the Clippers, he said he will practice on Friday and plans to make his debut on Monday in a road game against the New York Knicks. according to The Athletic’s Law Murray. Harden is expected to start, and he reportedly will share the word with Paul George, Kawhi Leonard Russell Westbrook and Ivica Zubac, per Shams Charania of The Athletic.