After being outdueled by young Houston Rockets guard Jalen Green in Philadelphia’s loss at Toyota Center on Monday night, there was no bitterness from veteran 76ers star James Harden.
Harden, who played eight-plus seasons in Houston as a perennial All-Star and MVP candidate, gave credit to the Rockets, who have won two of their last three games and four of seven.
“We know they were not just gonna lay down,” Harden said postgame, as relayed by Adam Spolane of SportsRadio 610. “They just got off a really good road trip. They beat some good teams, being down by a lot and winning a couple of games, so they have a bright future.”
Philadelphia led early, 10-0, before Houston stormed back and led for much of the game.
Harden also had kind words for Green, who fans of the Rockets would like to see as Harden’s replacement for the next generation.
“His aggressiveness from last year carried over to this year,” Harden said (per Spolane) of Green, who scored a team-high 27 points while shooting 9-of-13 (69.2%) inside of the 3-point arc on Monday. “He’s been just attacking the rim, shooting his shot, and just playing with a lot of confidence. As a young guy, if you have confidence, you can learn all the other things.”
“He’s not only lived up to expectations, but he’s just coming in with that swagger, every single game,” Harden added.
As for that bright future, it’s worth noting that Harden could become a free agent in the 2023 offseason, which is when the Rockets will have significant salary cap room. It’s far too early to tell what Harden’s situation in Philadelphia will be and whether a Houston reunion is possible, but it’s clear he holds fond memories.
“I respect and appreciate the love the city has given to me,” Harden said. “That will always be reciprocated, even to this day, through my community efforts, and so forth and so on.”