On Nov. 10, the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Los Angeles Clippers by 18 points in James Harden’s third game in a Clippers uniform. Harden recorded 14 points, five rebounds and three assists while shooting 3-of-6 from the field.
Before the game, Mavericks analyst Brian Dameris went in on Harden.
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“I get on my knees every night and pray for someone to believe in me like Daryl Morey believed in you,” Dameris said.
He criticized Harden’s lackluster performance in Game 7 of the Philadelphia 76ers’ series against the Boston Celtics a season ago, when he scored nine points on 3-of-11 shooting from the floor in 41 minutes of playing time.
“They traded Ben Simmons for you – how did they pull that off?” Dameris continued. “And you know what, you went there and you got a partner who got the MVP. He won the MVP. And what did you say afterwards? You said, ‘They didn’t hand me the reins.’
“You’re the point guard, you’re holding the reins. And what did you do when you had the reins? You scored nine points in Game 7 against Boston. You blew a 3-2 series lead.”
Dameris also hinted at the possibility of Harden demanding a trade yet again if the Clippers don’t live up to expectations this season.
“If this doesn’t work this year, in this system with this team, then you’re going to go and point fingers at everybody else,” he said. “You’re going to go back home and you’re going to start swiping right for another team and there’s not going to be anybody left.
“Because James — you’re not The Beard, you’re not the system, you’re the problem.”
Harden recently responded to Dameris’ comments.
“I didn’t even hear exactly what he said, but people were telling me he was going in on me,” Harden told Bleacher Report. “He doesn’t know me or the situation. That would be f—– up if I went at him and started being disrespectful to him but I can’t. They don’t know anything. They just go off what they see on social media or hearsay.
“I don’t know exactly what he said, but I pay that s— no mind. … I do a really good job at ignoring the noise because it doesn’t affect me. It’s just people talking. I guarantee that if you put whoever is talking in this situation, it wouldn’t be beneficial for them. That’s my mindset, but my focus is getting wins.”
Ever since Harden made his debut with the Clippers against the New York Knicks back on Nov. 6, Los Angeles has been unable to pick up a win. The Clippers are 0-5 with Harden in the lineup so far this season and are riding a six-game losing streak.
In five games played with the Clippers, Harden is averaging 15.0 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game while shooting 47.1 percent from the field and 37.0 percent from behind the 3-point arc.
For reference, Harden led the NBA in assists per game with 10.7 last season.
The guard has developed a track record of demanding trades in recent years. First, he requested a trade from the Houston Rockets during the 2020-21 season. He was subsequently traded to the Brooklyn Nets, where he played with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
After a short stint in Brooklyn, Harden wanted to be dealt to the 76ers, and he got his wish. In February of 2022, the Nets sent Harden and Paul Millsap to Philadelphia in exchange for Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and two first-round picks.
The early returns on the Harden-Clippers experiment aren’t promising, but the floor general still has plenty of time left to adjust to his role with the team.
The Clippers will have a chance to win their first game of the season with Harden when they take on the Rockets — who have won six games in a row — on Friday in an In-Season Tournament matchup.