James Harden: ‘I’m frustrated because I want to win and I’m a competitor’

James Harden Brooklyn Nets
James Harden reacts during the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers at Barclays Center.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

James Harden admitted he was frustrated following Tuesday’s loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, but asserted it had nothing to do with anything mentioned in a report earlier in the day that indicated he was unhappy with some of the circumstances in Brooklyn.

The lone member of the Nets’ “Big Three” on the court Tuesday told confidants that he has been frustrated with Kyrie Irving’s part-time status, Steve Nash’s rotation and living in Brooklyn, according to Bleacher Report. Harden tried to dance around the question when it was brought up after the game against Los Angeles.

“You’re talking about reports, I don’t know about reports. Did you guys hear from me,” Harden said during an exchange with a reporter. “I don’t know about no reports.”

When pressed about the specifics mentioned in the story, Harden admitted to the frustration he’s had with how the season has gone on. Brooklyn dropped to third in the East and a game back of the Miami Heat for first place with the loss on Tuesday.

It also marked their 12th loss in 24 games at the Barclays Center this season.

The Nets have had to deal with a laundry list of issues this season from injuries to COVID to the saga with Kyrie Irving and his vaccination status. It appeared that all of that has taken its toll on Harden, who recorded his second 30-point triple-double against the Lakers this season on Tuesday.

“Of course, I’m frustrated because we’re not healthy. It’s a lot of inconsistency for whatever reason, Injuries, Covid, whatever you want to call it,” Harden said. “I think everybody in this organization is frustrated because we are better than what our record is and we should be on the way up. That’s all it is. I don’t know about reports. If you didn’t hear it from me, I don’t talk to nobody. I have an agent. If you don’t hear it from me, then it’s reports.

“I’m frustrated because I want to win and I’m a competitor. It’s pretty simple.”

Harden has been the focus of rumors since he declined a contract extension with the Nets in October. However, the buzz has picked up in recent weeks as reports from multiple outlets have indicated a growing belief around the league that Philadelphia 76ers President Daryl Morey is going to hold onto Ben Simmons beyond the trade deadline in hopes of making an offseason move for Harden.

Any sort of sign and trade would be a complicated maneuver and require more than Simmons to be moved. It would also require a willing participant in the Nets.

While those rumors had drawn attention back to Harden’s contract situation with Brooklyn, the Bleacher Report story was the first to indicate that there had been any discontent from Harden himself about the current situation with the Nets.