Clippers’ James Harden — Can ‘fit in with anybody’ for title run

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Playa Vista, California. — James Harden He says he’s made a million sacrifices, including his playing style, which he said was “in a rib” during his stint with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Harden said he tried to do whatever it took to win in Philadelphia, but the 76ers front office didn’t want him to. Now with the Clippers, Harden hopes he can change some of the negative narratives surrounding him following his rookie departures from Brooklyn and Philadelphia and prove he’s still an elite star who can fit in. Kawhi Leonard, Paul George And Russell Westbrook And win a championship.

In his introductory news conference Thursday at the Clippers’ facility, Harden described what went wrong in Philadelphia.

“Taking $26 million less to sign and make the team better,” Harden said. “My role changes, no media [felt] Ball dominant, which is really effective in my ball dominance. But I have to change roles, try to change the narrative, try to make sacrifices and do whatever it takes to win at the highest level. That is not talked about. This is another BS.

“So I was leaving Brooklyn thinking I was going to retire as a Sixer, and the front office had other plans. They didn’t want me. … There’s a lot of narratives and people think they have an opinion … ..but none of it is true. No.”

Harden went through his first workout as a Clipper on Thursday and is on track to make his Clippers debut at Madison Square Garden on Monday against the New York Knicks. Clippers coach Ty Lue has a four-day break to use as a minicamp for Harden and integration PJ Tucker on his offense before they open a three-game road trip in New York.

Harden, who has averaged 10 assists per game over the past three seasons, hopes to unleash his style of play under Lue. He said he felt limited while with the Sixers, that he was “injured” and couldn’t play his best offensively, whether facilitating or scoring as well. Joel Embiid.

And Harden explained that “being clothed” doesn’t necessarily apply to how many shots he gets.

“I think the game and I’m a creator on the court,” Harden said. “So if I get a voice where I can say, ‘Hey, coach, I see this. What do you think about this?’ Someone who believes in me, who believes in me, who understands me. I’m not a system player. I’m a system. You know what I mean?

“So somebody that can have that dialogue with me, understand, step up, understand and adjust on the fly throughout the game, that’s what I really care about. It’s about me scoring a basketball, not scoring 34 points. I already did it.”

The Clippers see Harden as a ceiling razor, someone who can make life easier for Leonard and George. Harden, Leonard, George and Westbrook talked about leaving, staying out of individual stats and trying to come together to help the Clippers win their first NBA title. In such a situation, the four stars have to share the basketball as all are successful.

One bond they already share, though, is that they grew up in Southern California and wanted to do something special.

“I came back home,” said Harden, who played at Artesia High School in Lakewood, California. “I just think the comfort level of being around family and then having some really, really, really good players on this team. All four are friends from California. It’s a unique story. So it all makes sense as it all comes together.”

This will be the third time Harden and Westbrook have teamed up after playing together in Oklahoma City and Houston.

“I know Russ from the Boys and Girls Club in LA,” Harden said. “So our relationship goes beyond basketball. He was one of the reasons [of wanting to be traded to the Clippers]. He feels he has something to prove too. We’ve got a goal we’re trying to meet. And what better way to do it together in LA.

Harden sees similarities between the Clippers and his situation name And Kyrie Irving Before injuries derailed that team in Brooklyn.

“I was in a similar situation in Brooklyn, where you have two guys who can score the basketball, create mismatches on defense,” he said. “So I’m good in basketball, outside of basketball. Pick and roll, catching and shooting. We’ve got some really good coaches. We’ve got some really unselfish players.”

“I think so [I can] Basketball scores. I’m also a very, very good basketball passer. So I can facilitate.”

Harden said he’s looking forward to proving a lot with the Clippers.

“Everything,” Harden said when asked what he had to prove. “I’m very elite as a person and then I can adapt to anyone and work to run a championship.

“So I think we’re all on the same page in terms of individual stats and all that stuff is past us. We’ve all got a goal and I think everyone knows what that is.”



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