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#pounditMonday, July 15, 2024

Rockets’ pursuit of James Harden reunion hitting big snag?

James Harden looking on

Nov 15, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) arrives to Toyota Center prior to the game against the Indiana Pacers. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Rockets’ feel-good reunion story may now be fading like Marty McFly’s photograph.

Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes wrote on Wednesday that former MVP guard James Harden plans to decline his $35.6 million player option to become an unrestricted free agent and is seeking a four-year deal. As for suitors, Haynes adds that Harden will only entertain teams that offer “a competitive roster” and the “basketball freedom” for him to be himself.

That stands as bad news for the Rockets since they have anything but a competitive roster. While Alperen Sengun, Jalen Green, Josh Christopher, and Jabari Smith Jr. are nice pieces who are all 21 or younger, they are far from ready to compete for an NBA title. Houston has posted three straight seasons of 22 wins or fewer and now have a controversial new head coach in Ime Udoka who will implement his own system. That makes it seem unlikely that the Rockets would simply hand over the keys to Harden and even more unlikely that Harden would want to sign with them for four years (through his age-37 season).

Just a few days ago, it seemed like a reunion with the Rockets, where Harden played from 2012-21, was a very real possibility. But since then, Harden’s current team, the Philadelphia 76ers, has fired Doc Rivers (who was reportedly unliked by Harden). It may not necessarily be in the bag for the 76ers though as there is another contending team that recently entered the Harden sweepstakes.

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