James Harden’s Freedom with Clippers: Debut on Monday

James Harden's Freedom with Clippers: Debut on Monday

In his first news conference with the Los Angeles Clippers, James Harden delivered exactly what he promised.

The former MVP spoke to the media three days after the long-awaited trade that brought him here from the Philadelphia 76ers about the circumstances that led to his trade demand and what he intends for moving forward. As one might expect, he had a lot to say about Philly’s leadership.

After describing himself as “very elite as an individual” but also being great in a team context, Harden went on the attack against the Sixers head office, claiming he gave up $26 million to play for the organization and planned to retire there until they changed their minds, claiming “they didn’t want me.”

James Harden's Freedom with Clippers: Debut on Monday

The collapse in Harden’s relationship with Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey dominated coverage of his requests to leave the organization, most notably when he stood in front of a microphone in China and declared, “Daryl Morey is a liar.” According to another source on Wednesday, Harden has no intentions to speak with him again.

Harden stepped up the language even more on Thursday, referring to his tenure with the Sixers as “being on a leash.”

“Philly [was] just changing my role because I know I can give more and do more, but to be honest, it’s like being on a leash.”

Like, I knew that in order for us to go where we wanted to go, I needed to be at my best offensively, whether it’s facilitating or scoring the basketball, and Joel [Embiid] needed to be as well.

That was never an option for me. “I believe it all contributes to where I am today.”

Given that Harden led the NBA in assists last season and was a key component of the Sixers’ offense, it’s easy to dismiss that comment, but he also had his lowest usage rate since 2012 (thanks, no doubt, to the presence of league MVP Joel Embiid).

When pressed to elaborate on the leash line, Harden stated that it was more about talking with his coach than real usage on the floor, while also dropping the day’s most widely shared quote:

“I don’t mean to shoot the basketball every time I’m on a leash.” I mean, I think the game and I’m a creator on the court, so if I have a voice to say, ‘Hey Coach, I see this, what do you think about this?’ then everything is fine. Someone who believes in me and recognizes that I am not a system player, but rather a system.

All I really want is someone who can have that conversation with me, comprehend and go forward, figure out and make modifications on the fly during games. It’s not about me making a basket… I’ve already done it.”

Harden isn’t the first to call out former Sixers coach Doc Rivers’ in-game changes.

Naturally, the “I’m not a system player, I am a system” line became the conference’s most viral moment, as many individuals eager to depict Harden as the ball-dominant team disruptor latched on it as proof he hadn’t changed. Maybe he hasn’t, but the reaction seemed to validate Harden’s earlier statement: “You’re always going to take something out of what I say and make it into a different story.”

According to The Athletic’s Law Murray, Harden will practice with the Clippers on Friday and will make his debut Monday in a road game against the New York Knicks.

James Harden Trade Rumors: According to reports, the Clippers are looking to add draft capital after the 76ers rejected their initial offer

James Harden Trade Rumors

Following his noticeable absence from media day, James Harden has joined the Philadelphia 76ers at training camp in Fort Collins, Colorado, taking part in exercises on the first two days of practice. But that doesn’t mean he’s content.

According to The Athletic’s Sam Amick, despite being “an engaged and positive participant” during training camp, Harden’s trade request is still on the table.

So far, head decision-maker Daryl Morey has refused to trade Harden to his preferred destination of the Los Angeles Clippers, stating that he will not make a move unless his price tag is fulfilled.

Morey and the 76ers reportedly turned down a Clippers offer earlier this summer. According to Amick:

According to league sources, the Clippers offered the Sixers an unprotected first-round selection, a pick swap, and salary for Harden in July, but Philadelphia has set a far higher bar.

According to insiders, the Sixers have placed a high value on fifth-year forward Terance Mann and several first-round picks in a prospective trade with the Clippers. Mann, who averaged 8.8 points and 3.4 rebounds last season, has grown in popularity among NBA teams in recent years.

James Harden Trade Rumors: According to reports, the Clippers are looking to add draft capital after the 76ers rejected their initial offer

According to Amick’s report, the Clippers have approached multiple clubs about moving pick swaps to garner additional draft money as they try to put together a more appealing package.

Mann’s departure would be difficult, since the energetic 26-year-old can cover numerous roles and is a career 38% 3-point shooter.

He’s also one of the few Clippers who has stayed on the court consistently, missing only two games in the last two seasons.

For Harden, this is both good and terrible news. On the one hand, he must be relieved that the Clippers are still interested in pursuing further trade options.

On the other hand, he can’t be happy that the two teams are still so far apart, with the regular season starting in less than three weeks.

Harden is avoiding a fine by participating in camp, as we witnessed with Ben Simmons a few years back.

Amick also says that Harden believes that making a distraction is not the best course of action because he is hoping for a trade.

“He’s arrived. On Thursday, Joel Embiid said of Harden, “He’s practicing with us, and that’s all we know.” “However, as I already stated, we are not focused on it. We’re just trying to get the offense and defense working together and figure out how to play together.”

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