In an interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols that aired Friday, Harden delved into his messy breakup with the Rockets, who sent him to Brooklyn in a four-team trade on January 14.
Messy Breakup With Houston Rocket
The dust may have settled, but the way things ended between Harden and Houston still doesn’t sit well with the former.
“I don’t like it at all because that’s not who I am,” Harden told Nichols.
James Harden sits down & opens up about his new role in Brooklyn, what he didn't like about his departure from Houston, and the Nets' championship chances: "We're more than confident that it's going to be difficult for a team to beat us four times in a best-of-seven series." pic.twitter.com/rZKkwFs1jg
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) February 12, 2021
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Harden, who had requested a trade in the offseason, was absent for the beginning of training camp with the Rockets while attending events in Atlanta and Las Vegas. Then, a couple of days before being dealt to the Nets, he had this to say after a blowout loss to the Los Angeles Lakers:
“We’re not even close, honestly, to that team (the Lakers) — obviously the defending champions — and all the other elite teams out there. You can tell the difference in these last two games.
“We’re just not good enough. Obviously chemistry, talent-wise, just… everything. It was clear. They’re a veteran team, a championship team, one of the best teams that we have in this league.
“I love this city. I’ve literally done everything I can. This situation is crazy. It’s something that — I don’t think it can be fixed.”
James Harden: We're not even close, honestly, to that team, the obviously the defending champions, and to all the other elite teams out there. I mean, you can tell the difference these last two games." pic.twitter.com/l6WDfBrtNS
— Adam Spolane (@AdamSpolane) January 13, 2021
Harden expressed regret over how the situation unfolded to Nichols.
“The drama, the extra whatever you want to call it, the negativity, for me I don’t really like negative energy, it’s draining,” Harden said. “I don’t like how it necessarily happened, I feel like it could’ve happened a lot smoother, easier, but it is what it is.”
‘Relieving’ to Be With Brooklyn Nets
Harden is averaging 23.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and a league-leading 11.3 assists in 13 games since joining the Nets.
“The situation that I was with in Houston, consistently and every single night having to get 40 points to give ourself a chance to win, for a long stint of years is draining,” Harden told Nichols, “and so just to be able to have a skillset of guys that you can be the play-maker and you can get guys involved and not necessarily worrying about scoring each possession, it’s a little bit relieving for me.”
The Nets are 8-5 in games that Harden has played in for them.
“Of course, we’re more than confident that it will be difficult for a team to beat us four times in a best-of-7 series so I’m excited about it,” Harden told Nichols. “And it’s only been a month, so all of us are trying to get to one goal and that’s the NBA championship.”