James Harden’s Nets tenure was a disappointment, as he was expected to form the new big three with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Instead, Brooklyn traded him just over a year after acquiring him, sending Harden to the rival 76ers.
After the trade, many people criticized Harden for forcing a second trade in two years, first with the Rockets and then with the Nets. However, Harden claims that the Nets organization was not as impressive as it appeared to be on the outset.
“I don’t mean to, like, just down talk to anybody or whatever,” Harden told Yaron Weitzman of Fox Sports. “It was just, there was no structure and even superstars, they need structure. That’s what allows us to be the best players and leaders for our respective organizations.”
Last year, Brooklyn had to deal with Harden’s injury and Kyrie Irving’s lack of availability due to his unvaccinated status. That all led to a complicated season as the Big Three couldn’t find a way to develop chemistry.
Therefore, Harden takes exception to the idea that he quit on Brooklyn.
“I just feel like, internally, things weren't what I expected when I was trying to get traded there,” he said, “I think everybody knows that. And I knew people were going to talk and say, ‘You quit' and all that stuff, but then the following summer, the other superstar there [Durant] wanted to leave. So it's like: Am I still the quitter?”
Durant requested a trade in June, but the team never found a deal that suited them, so he remained with the team. Additionally, according to Weitzman, this interview took place a few days before the Nets fired head coach Steve Nash, though Harden never spoke directly about the former head coach in the story..
While Harden appears happier in Philadelphia, the team has struggled more than Brooklyn, as the Nets are in fourth place in the East while the Sixers have battled injuries and have only recently risen to fifth place.