Speaking in front of reporters for the first time as a member of the Clippers, James Harden opened up about his trade demand from the Sixers. Harden stated he felt the Sixers had him “on a leash” last season.
“When I mean a leash, I don’t mean just shooting the basketball every time,” Harden said via ESPN’s Malika Andrews (Twitter link). “I think the game and I’m a creator on the court … [I need] somebody that trusts me, that believes in me, that understands me, that I’m not a system player. I am a system.”
The 10-time All-Star said he just wants to win at the highest level, which is why he took less money to stay with the Sixers last season (Twitter link via Sportskeeda’s Mark Medina). Harden signed a two-year, $68.6MM deal with Philadelphia last summer — the second year was a player option, which he exercised before demanding a trade. According to Harden, he planned to retire a Sixer, but felt the organization had other plans.
“They didn’t want me. It’s that simple,” Harden said.
The Sixers traded Harden to the Clippers after a four-month saga. Harden made public comments criticizing Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey over the summer and was in and out of training camp as he awaited a trade.
In the end, Harden was sent to Los Angeles alongside P.J. Tucker, with Nicolas Batum, Robert Covington, Marcus Morris and Kenyon Martin Jr. dealt to Philadelphia. According to Andrews (Twitter link), Harden is planning to make his Clippers debut on Monday against the Knicks.
“I can fit in with anybody and make a championship run work,” (Twitter link via Medina). “All of us are on the same page in the sense that the individual stats and all of those things are past us.“