NEW YORK — In keeping with James Harden, “it is all a circulation.” Some nights, he stated in his introductory press convention on Friday, “I could be a facilitator.” Different nights, he would possibly rating at a excessive clip. Kyrie Irving or Kevin Durant “would possibly rating 10 possessions in a row,” he stated, “and I am effective with that as a result of we’ll be profitable and it should be good.”
Harden will make his Brooklyn Nets debut on Saturday, supplied that each one the gamers in Wednesday’s commerce move physicals. Irving will probably be out of the lineup, per ESPN’s Malika Andrews, however may very well be again from his absence as quickly as Monday. Each time the three stars get on the courtroom collectively, the world will probably be watching to see what it appears like. Harden stated that “it should be enjoyable,” inadvertently channeling an notorious Sports activities Illustrated cowl line, and that he cannot predict the way it will go from recreation to recreation.
“That is the fantastic thing about being versatile and with the ability to do a couple of factor,” he stated.
The counterpoint is that, since 2012, he has accomplished the identical factor. For each second of his tenure with the Houston Rockets, Harden was unequivocally the centerpiece of the offense and the group. The teammates modified, the teaching employees modified and the type of play advanced, however he had the ball in his palms, in complete management. Nets coach Steve Nash acknowledged on Friday that “it should be an adjustment for him,” however stated that Harden was enthusiastic concerning the newness of this case. Harden stated it was thrilling to listen to Nash, “among the finest to ever do it,” clarify his place within the offense once they talked earlier within the day.
“So long as I am making my teammates higher, it would not matter concerning the factors,” Harden stated. “I feel all people is aware of that I can rating at a excessive clip, and that is the place the sacrifice is available in at.”
Repeatedly, Harden careworn that he wished this, and his new co-stars did, too. Nash and common supervisor Sean Marks, who spoke Thursday, stated the identical factor. It sounded quite a bit like what all people stated about Durant and Irving coexisting with playmakers Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert, an experiment that had barely begun earlier than Dinwiddie partially tore his ACL and the Nets traded LeVert within the Harden deal. This partnership, nevertheless, is totally different. Brooklyn has three All-NBA-caliber gamers, all between 28 and 32 years previous, and Harden is not about to return to the Sixth Man of the Yr function he performed in his early 20s.
Neither Harden nor his new coach supplied a quote concerning the match that may match the road Klay Thompson delivered after Durant joined the 73-win Golden State Warriors: “There’s one ball. Guess what we’ll do — we’ll put within the hoop.” Nash did his finest to reframe the “one ball” dialogue, although, calling it the clichéd “nice drawback” for the teaching employees to have and, extra compellingly, a “nice alternative” for the trio. (Thompson additionally stated, memorably, that he was “not sacrificing shit.”)
“Look, these guys, they wish to win,” Nash stated. “In the event that they actually wish to win, they will discover a technique to play collectively. I feel my function, our function as coaches, is to create an surroundings that’s actually, actually fulfilling, difficult and aggressive, however enjoyable.”
It is onerous to think about a extra attention-grabbing coach for this specific problem. Nash is likely one of the finest leaders in NBA historical past, a Corridor of Fame level guard who personifies unselfishness. He’s additionally in his first yr on the job, and he was on that notorious SI cowl, posing subsequent to Dwight Howard. Help man that he’s, when the goofy Howard belted “I Love L.A.” through the photoshoot, Nash joined in. In that story, Grant Hill describes Nash as a “conductor,” however that superteam was by no means in tune, doomed by persona conflicts and accidents.
“Having performed on groups with different proficient gamers, you may see the pitfalls, you may see the difficulties and you may lean on these experiences,” Nash stated. “And I feel a part of that’s simply beginning out with actually simply stripping down what are our motives right here collectively. Like, what are we right here for? What can we wish to accomplish?”
In that respect, Nash believes they’re on the identical web page. Harden, Durant and Irving all know that they should “take a barely much less quantity method to taking part in now,” he stated. “There’s nonetheless loads of photographs to go round, there’s nonetheless loads of alternatives to make performs to go round, nevertheless it’s not going to be the identical format that it was earlier than once they have been largely the No. 1 focus. It should be way more unfold between the three of them.” Nash stated the offense would not need to look excellent subsequent week, however they may work out tips on how to make one another — and their non-star teammates — higher.
Harden described himself as “an elite participant, an elite teammate and only a man that is prepared to do no matter it takes to rack up as many wins as we will, sacrifice.” He has not talked to Irving about how they may share ballhandling duty, he stated, however he did not sound fearful about it.
“Relying on what is going on on all through the course of the sport, that is going to find out who will get the ball and who makes the performs,” Harden stated. “We’re all unselfish, we’re all prepared passers and we play basketball the precise approach. And that is all that issues.”
Harden stated the Nets have been on the prime of his record as he engineered his Houston exit. “It was a no brainer for me,” he stated, as a result of all he needs at this stage of his profession is an opportunity to win a title.
It’s at all times simpler, nevertheless, for a star participant to speak about sacrifice than it’s to truly do it. Durant actually tailored with the Warriors, however even on-court dominance could not hold that association going for greater than three seasons. Irving stated all the precise issues when he joined the Boston Celtics, however that state of affairs turned untenable in Yr 2. One might take a look at latest historical past and these stars’ utilization charges and conclude that this entire factor goes to explode in Brooklyn’s collective face. One might additionally surmise that they perceive precisely what’s in entrance of them.
“We all know what’s at stake,” Harden stated.