CAMDEN, N.J. — DeAndre Jordan said he was excited about the prospect of reuniting with James Harden on the Philadelphia 76ers, saying he’s better at setting up easy baskets than anyone in the NBA.
“I mean, for a big, or anybody trying to get easy baskets, he’s the best guy to play with,” Jordan said Monday after Philadelphia’s morning shootaround in his first public comments since joining the team last week. “He’s so unselfish when it comes to passing and getting guys open and getting other guys going because he can get himself going at any point in time.”
Harden is one of several reunions for Jordan with the 76ers. The 33-year-old center, now playing for his fourth NBA team, spent several years with 76ers coach Doc Rivers with the LA Clippers — where he also played with forward Tobias Harris — and played last season with Harden on the Brooklyn Nets.
Jordan started 19 games for the Los Angeles Lakers this season before falling out of the rotation and eventually being released before last week’s March 1 deadline for players to be eligible to play on another team’s postseason roster. That familiarity — plus Philadelphia’s need for a backup center after sending Andre Drummond to Brooklyn in the Harden trade — made the choice of joining the 76ers an easy one.
“There were other situations, but I’m familiar with Doc, I was with him for years,” Jordan said. “James, Tobias, and Joel and I are cool. And, yeah, with Andre leaving, they needed another backup center, so it was mutual.”
Jordan signed with Philadelphia on Friday and joined the 76ers in Miami for Saturday’s loss to the East-leading Miami Heat. He said he got a chance to get some workouts in and that it was good to see the team in person and get a feel for how they want to play.
Jordan made his 76ers debut Monday night in Philadelphia, finishing with 2 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 block in 10 minutes off the bench. The 76ers beat the Chicago Bulls 121-106.
Jordan said he spent time watching Philadelphia’s second unit — both before and after the Harden trade — to get a sense of how the unit would play and that he was excited about how he could fit in with it moving forward.
“Just bring energy,” Jordan said of his role in Philly. “Our second unit, I feel like, plays fast, and we’ve got some shooters on the floor, and I was going back and watching some clips of their second unit before they made trades and even with James, so for me, just setting picks with those guys, being able to space the floor and James being able to create, playmake for himself, for everybody else.
“So long as I’m setting screens, rolling hard, rebounding the basketball and having some defensive intensity on the floor, our unit should be OK.”
When asked how much he thought he could play right away, Jordan said jokingly that he’s “only 33 … in the real world, that’s not very old at all,” and added that his body feels great. After beginning the season as a regular starter and member of the Lakers’ rotation, Jordan has played in only five games since Christmas — and for a total of about 52 minutes.
He said that joining the 76ers was an opportunity to both reunite with familiar faces, play more and “have a chance to go further in the postseason” than he would’ve in Los Angeles.
“I enjoyed my time there for sure,” Jordan said of the Lakers. “Obviously, this was an opportunity where I was … I’m familiar with Doc, you know what I mean? So it was a chance to come here and play a little more and have a chance to go further in the postseason. I do think those guys are going to have some success late, but this was the best opportunity, I felt like, for me.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism