Philadelphia 76ers star guard James Harden is set to be a free agent this upcoming offseason, and he’s reportedly considering a reunion with the Houston Rockets.
The ESPN report states that Harden and his “inner circle” have been thinking “in recent months” about Houston as a potential destination this summer.
It’s a big deal for Harden considering he wanted out of Houston, which ended up coming to fruition when the Rockets traded the lefty shooter to the Brooklyn Nets in a blockbuster deal.
But Harden wasn’t content in Brooklyn either, as reports came out that Philadelphia was where he really wanted to land when he was traded out of Houston. He got his wish there as well, with Philadelphia sending Ben Simmons, Seth Curry and draft picks in exchange for Harden to team up with his latest perennial All-Star, Joel Embiid.
Being paired with Embiid and the rest of a roster that has NBA Finals potential, the 76ers certainly are in the conversation to re-sign Harden, who agreed to a two-year, $68.6 million contract with a player option for the 2023-24 season. Philadelphia is the current No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference with a 19-12 record heading into Christmas Day against the New York Knicks.
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The 76ers have also been doing this without their budding star Tyrese Maxey, who has quickly become a cornerstone piece of this Philly squad.
But that’s what the Sixers would be selling to Harden: Winning now and having championship hopes. A deep playoff run with Harden on the roster could be a big factor in where he decides to play next season and beyond.
However, “comfort and familiarity” is what ESPN says would entice Harden back to Houston, where they are rebuilding with players like Jalen Green, Jabari Smith and Kevin Porter Jr., among others.
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Harden is still connected to the “community, lifestyle and family there,” ESPN added.
This is Year 14 for Harden since he began with the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2009-10. He’s collected 10 All-Star invites, three scoring titles, seven All-NBA nods and one MVP in the 2017-18 season with Houston over his Hall of Fame worthy career.
In 17 games this season, Harden has continued to be a pass-first shooting guard that can also light it up in the points column, averaging 10.9 assists and 21.4 points per game for the Sixers. He’s shooting 36.4% from three and 42.9% from the field in 37.8 minutes per game.
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