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James Harden calls himself ‘elite player, elite teammate, elite leader’ during Nets presser [UPDATE]

Brooklyn introduced the superstar to the media on Friday and The Beard had some interesting comments after his departure from Houston.

James Harden of the Houston Rockets in action against the Los Angeles Lakers during a game at Toyota Center on January 10, 2021 in Houston, Texas. Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

UPDATE: Jan. 15 — Harden was introduced to the media on Friday for the first time as a Brooklyn Net. Harden had some interesting comments on the trade. Per reporters, Harden called himself an “elite player, elite teammate, elite leader” at the press conference. The All-Star guard has taken a lot of heat this season and during the time he requested the trade out of Houston. It appears he’s focused on winning with his new teammates Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

The other intriguing question from the presser was whether Harden would have stayed in Houston had Daryl Morey not left for the Philadelphia 76ers. Harden was unable to answer the question fully. The Beard was asked about his conditioning, which has come into question in the first few weeks of the season. He answered “great” to reporters, so it doesn’t seem that was an issue with his production early on.

The Houston Rockets have traded All-Star guard James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets in a blockbuster deal, ESPN reported Wednesday. Harden had reportedly been seeking a deal out of Houston and the Nets and Philadelphia 76ers emerged as favorites to land The Beard early on Wednesday. Harden was fed up after the Rockets lost to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night and he was going to be held out of games until a trade was reached. The sides acted swiftly. We’ll see what the Nets are sending back in return.

Update: The deal is a three-way trade involving the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Rockets are acquiring LeVert, Dante Exum, Rodions Kurucs, four first-rounders — including the Cavs’ in 2022 via the Milwaukee Bucks — plus four pick swaps. Allen and swingman Taurean Prince are being traded to Cleveland.

Per The Athletic, following the Harden trade, the Rockets are sending LeVert to the Pacers in exchange for All-Star guard Victor Oladipo. There are more moving pieces involved in that deal as well.

I tried to outline the moving pieces as best I can above, here’s an easier picture to digest via Charania. It’s worth noting that all of the draft picks and pick swaps involved in the trade are unprotected. The three BKN picks likely won’t be in the lottery, same with the MIL pick.

The Athletic had reported earlier in the day that the Nets were going to include all of their future first-round picks and three pick swaps as part of a deal for Harden. Now Shams Charania is saying that is the case with the Nets shipping out four first-rounders and four pick swaps for Harden. Shams is saying Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen are also involved in the deal, but may not be headed to Houston. Another team or two could be involved.

Okay, now that we’ve sorted through some of the details of the trade, let’s look at what it means for both teams. The Rockets are basically giving up on the season and looking toward a rebuild. With John Wall, Oladipo and DeMarcus Cousins, the team can focus on staying somewhat competitive while also retaining plenty of assets for the future. Christian Wood should be a focus in that core moving forward. The draft picks gives Houston the ability to add another piece or set themselves up to add young talent in the next handful of drafts.

The Nets are looking at a three-headed monster that will include Harden, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. Brooklyn only gave up three regulars in the process — LeVert, Allen and Prince. The team still has Joe Harris, DeAndre Jordan, Timothe Luwawau-Cabarrot, Landry Shamet and Bruce Brown among others to play around the three superstars. Harden and Irving are big time personalities and Durant is one of the best players in the universe. This could end up blowing up in their face or this could be one of the best offenses we’ll ever see on a basketball court, ever.