New Nugget Harrington passes physical
DENVER -- Forward Al Harrington's first visit Tuesday to Denver since signing with the Nuggets as a free agent included passing the physical exam that sealed the deal and a frank get-to-know-you session with coach George Karl.
"He just told me some of the things he doesn't like about my game," Harrington said with a laugh. "There were more things he liked than didn't like. And the things that he told me about, I can definitely change. I'm not worried about it. I feel like I'm going to fit in great."
Harrington was signed last week to a contract guaranteeing him about $26 million over the next five years, contingent upon passing a physical. That formality was cleared Tuesday.
"They just wanted to make sure I was as healthy as I said I was. It's official now," Harrington said, appearing fit and relaxed and even joking with reporters during a 15-minute introductory news conference on the floor of the Nuggets' practice facility at the Pepsi Center.
The 6-foot-9 Harrington likely will play power forward opposite Carmelo Anthony.
He averaged 17.7 points and 5.6 rebounds last season while with the New York Knicks. One of his best games was in Denver on Nov. 27, when he scored 41 but Anthony had 50 in the Nuggets' 128-125 win.
While declining to go into specifics about their conversation, Harrington said Karl -- who has been more of a regular presence recently at the Nuggets' facilities as his recovery from neck and throat cancer has progressed -- outlined his expectations and expressed both concern and appreciation for his game.
In turn, Harrington said he liked Karl's bluntness and said he looked forward to playing for him and with his new teammates.
"Obviously, I don't know him that well yet," Harrington said. "But it just seems like he's a straight shooter. That's always an advantage, to have a coach that's going to tell you how it is. You'll get much more respect from me, handling me that way."
Harrington's offensive game has been a strong point, particularly over the last five years with the Knicks and Golden State Warriors. He averaged 16.3 points per game in that span.
"In my mind, I feel like no one can guard me and I think to be a good offensive player, that's how you have to think," Harrington said.
While the Nuggets can use another consistent scoring threat to take some of the pressure off Anthony, Karl made it clear that Harrington's defensive presence and rebounding ability were even more critical to the team's chances of success next season.
Harrington admitted his play on the defensive end and under the basket hasn't been particularly noteworthy in recent years but said that was more a reflection of the importance that the Knicks and Warriors placed on offensive production.
"Being on teams where defense isn't a priority, you can't expect me to be a great defender. That's just how I look at it," Harrington said. "But I know I can play defense and I will."
He likened the Nuggets' defensive emphasis to the way he played when he was with Indiana. Harrington spent seven of his 14 seasons in the league with the Pacers, and during that time, "I was about the eighth scoring option. The only way I could get on the floor was to play defense."
He expects to do the same with the Nuggets.
"That's something [Karl] wants to focus on and obviously, I'm not the only one," Harrington said. "We have to do it as a team. We'll be as strong as our weakest link."
Harrington said he'll wear the No. 7 jersey with the Nuggets. He has previously worn No. 3, but that was already taken by Ty Lawson.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press
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