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#pounditWednesday, December 6, 2023

Report: 1 team expects to sign James Harden this summer

James Harden dribbles

Feb 25, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden (1) brings the ball up court against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first quarter at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

James Harden is expected to decline his player option and become a free agent this summer, and there is a growing sense that the former MVP will not return to the Philadelphia 76ers. According to one report, Harden may have already made up his mind about where he wants to play next season.

Sources told Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer that the Houston Rockets expect to bring Harden back. Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta reportedly “loves” Harden, and executives around the NBA believe Harden will rejoin his former team.

The Rockets have a new head coach in Ime Udoka. Pompey was told that Udoka and other candidates were asked during the interview process for their opinions on coaching Harden.

Some believe Harden could use the Rockets’ interest as leverage to get a bigger contract from the Sixers. However, Harden still conducts business in the Houston area and has strong family ties there.

The question is whether the Sixers, Rockets or any other team will be willing to give the 33-year-old Harden a max contract. Harden is eligible for $210 million over four years with Philadelphia and up to $202 million with another team.

Harden played for the Rockets from 2012-2021. He was named MVP in 2018 when he played under Mike D’Antoni. There is one issue that might stand in the way of Houston signing Harden, but it does not sound like that will be a deal-breaker.

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