Former New York Knicks forward Josh Harrellson may be a member of the Miami Heat but he still has fond feelings for his time in Madison Square Garden. While any and all interactions with the Knicks in New York will be as an adversary Harrellson still has friends he considers close to him in the Knicks locker room.
Harrellson is 6'10", 275 pounds who was selected by the New Orleans Hornets as the 45th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. He played center for the Kentucky Wildcats from 2008-11. Harrellson was traded to the New York Knicks in a draft night and played for the Knicks from 2011-12. While he played backup center on occasion he primarily played power forward for the Knicks. In early July of 2012, Harrellson was traded to the Houston Rockets along with Toney Douglas, Jerome Jordan and second-round picks in 2014 and 2015 in exchange for Marcus Camby. However, the Rockets decided to waive Harrellson in August. After becoming a free agent, Harrlellson signed with the Miami Heat on September 17, 2012.
Jared Zwerling of ESPNNewYork reports Harrellson still has mixed feelings about first being pro-New York and anti-Miami and becoming pro-Miami and anti-New York all within a small period of time despite having friends in both locker rooms.
"It's weird," he said before the Knicks-Heat game Friday night. "This is my first home, so the Knicks always have a place special to me for giving my first opportunity in the NBA."
Harrellson had planned to play with the Knicks during the Las Vegas summer league, but a few days before games tipped off, he was traded to the Rockets in the Marcus Camby deal. A month later, he was waived by Houston, and then a month after that, the Heat signed him.
He said the three-month-long process was surreal.
"It was definitely quick," he said. "When I found out I got traded, it was right before summer league, so I had to go to Houston. … I didn't know anybody in Houston besides my former (Knicks) teammates, which are still good friends of mine.
"I was really excited to be able to play with those guys and then I got cut, so it was definitely an awkward moment not knowing where I was going to be, not knowing if I was going to be playing. … And then I went to Miami, one of three or four teams I was actually thinking about going to, and they liked what they saw and I made the cut. So it worked out."
Furthermore, Harrellson sees many similarities between the franchises.
Now that Harrellson has had about six weeks to get a taste of the Heat's culture, he said there haven't been any major differences from what he experienced last season in New York. He called both organizations "first class."
"Both teams are competitors, both coaches are great, smart coaches, and they know how to prepare you," he said. "I've got a lot of great veterans on this team, and same with the Knicks last year."
Harrellson was in New York for exciting times. He was a part of Linsanity while Jeremy Lin was taking over the basketball world and was part of the Knicks team that won its first playoff game since 2004. He was instantly a fan favorite for his tough defense and three-point shooting ability.
Their is very little doubt that his ex-teammates will be happy to see him when he's able to visit. He still has plenty of good friends in the Knicks locker room. They were able to share great times together.
While Harrellson didn't get the chance to play in Houston he has now taken his talents to South Beach where he should get some solid playing time and the chance to play deep into the playoffs and possibly even contend for a title.
Knicks fans will remember Harrellson, the man they affectionately referred to as "Jorts", as one of their favorites during his time in New York. He played well and better than he probably should have considering his draft slot and projection. It was certainly worth it for the Knicks to sacrifice Harrellson in order to secure the services of Camby but it will be sad if Harrellson comes back to bite New York in the butt come playoff time.