May 19, 2024

In his first comments since being traded from Philadelphia to the Clippers, James Harden said he is motivated to prove “everything.”

Harden, speaking Thursday, said he wanted to show that he was elite and could contribute to a championship team.

It was an introduction four months in the making. When Harden opted into the final year of his contract in June, he did so while making clear he wanted to be traded to the Clippers. The 76ers and Clippers agreed to terms late Monday, and he arrived Tuesday in time to watch the Clippers play Orlando. Harden participated in a practice game Thursday afternoon and is expected to debut Monday against New York at Madison Square Garden.

Harden said that after taking less money and changing his role in Philadelphia last season, “things just didn’t work out.” He said he thought he would retire as a Sixer.

“The front office had other plans,” he said. “They didn’t want me.”

On Wednesday, coach Tyronn Lue said he hadn’t had the time yet to speak with incumbent starting point guard Russell Westbrook and Harden about how the team’s ballhandling responsibilities would be divided when they play together. Paul George called them “two different beasts” who had chemistry from playing previously in Oklahoma City and Houston. Those situations aren’t necessarily a template, with Westbrook calling it “obviously different.”

“I don’t predict the future. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know, bro,” Westbrook said. “But it’s going to be a process. It’s going to be ups and downs, going to be good games, bad games. It’s not just going to come together and mesh and we’re going to be perfectly fine. That’s unrealistic expectations for everybody. The realistic expectations, like I said, it’s going to be a process. I don’t have the answer what that is.”

That process means “understanding it’s one basketball,” George said.

“We’ve talked leading up to it,” George said. “The reason why he’s here, we wanted him here. And so I mean, we all said we think we can make it work, we’ll figure it out, but we’ve obviously got to practice, we got to play for us to really get on the same page.”

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