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James Harden available to make Nets debut against Magic

The newly acquired All-Star will be in the starting lineup for Brooklyn on Saturday.

From NBA.com News Services

James Harden is set to play his first game in a Brooklyn Nets uniform.

James Harden is available to make his Brooklyn Nets debut against the Orlando Magic on Saturday and will be in the starting lineup, according to coach Steve Nash.

The three-time NBA scoring champion became available to play earlier in the day after all the players in the blockbuster trade that sent him from Houston to Brooklyn completed their physicals.

Nash said he would determine as the game goes along whether he needed to limit the All-Star guard’s minutes, saying the Nets “don’t want to run the batteries down on our new Christmas present this early.”

Harden has not practiced with the Nets and Nash said the team would try to keep things simple Saturday, though expected Harden to catch on quickly.

The Nets officially acquired Harden on Thursday in a massive trade that wound up sending Caris LeVert to the Indiana Pacers, Jarrett Allen to the Cleveland Cavaliers and four first-round picks to Houston, where Harden had grown unsatisfied with the team’s direction.

Harden’s situation with the Rockets came to a head Tuesday after a blowout loss to the Los Angeles Lakers when he stated the team was not good enough to win a title. By Thursday, he was in Brooklyn.

Asked what the Nets are getting, Harden replied: “An elite player, an elite teammate, an elite leader and just a guy that’s willing to do whatever it takes to rack up as many wins as we can.”

“James is a brilliant basketball player, so he’s going to figure out how to make problems for the defense no matter what we do just being on the floor,” Nash said.

The Nets (7-6) will look for their third straight win behind Harden and Kevin Durant, but their big three will not be on display just yet as Kyrie Irving remains sidelined.

Irving has been out due to personal reasons, but won’t play in Saturday’s contest because of the NBA’s Health and Safety Protocols. He will miss his sixth consecutive game.

Harden will be in the starting lineup with Durant, his former teammate with the Oklahoma City Thunder from 2009-10 to 2011-12. Both players have won a Kia MVP award and multiple scoring titles since their days together with the Thunder.

Harden averaged 24.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 10.4 assists through eight games in Houston this season.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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