Report: 1 team in West a ‘very real possibility’ for James Harden
James Harden is expected to decline his player option for next season and become a free agent this summer, and his future with the Philadelphia 76ers looks even less certain following another disappointing playoff exit. If Harden does decide to leave Philly, there is at least one Western Conference team to keep an eye on.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on “Get Up” Monday morning that there is a real chance Harden could return to the Houston Rockets in free agency.
“It was a real possibility back on Christmas and it remains so now. Houston is a very real possibility for James Harden in free agency,” Wojnarowski said. “They’ve got upwards of $60 million in cap space. They want to be much better next season.”
Woj added that Harden has a “comfort level” in Houston and pushed his way out mostly because he wanted to contend for a championship. The Rockets have a young team and are in position to potentially land the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, which would mean having an opportunity to draft 7-foot-2 French phenom Victor Wembanyama.
Even if the Rockets land the franchise-altering top draft pick, Wojnarowski believes they would still consider making a run at Harden. Though, he also notes that Harden could use Houston’s interest as leverage in long-term negotiations with the Sixers. You can hear more below:
.@wojespn says there's "a very real possibility" that James Harden returns to Houston 👀
"If [the Rockets] win the lottery … and they're the ones who can draft Victor Wembanyama, my sense is that would not necessarily change the Rockets' intentions to pursue James Harden." pic.twitter.com/TvIXpkYxD3
— Get Up (@GetUpESPN) May 15, 2023
After Sunday’s blowout loss to the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, Harden was asked about his relationship with Doc Rivers and whether he would like to see the head coach back in Philly next season. He had an interesting response.
Reporter: "How is your relationship with Doc [Rivers] and would you like to see him back next season?"
James Harden: "Uh, our relationship is OK." pic.twitter.com/Q2QzC2SEjI
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) May 14, 2023
Harden played for the Rockets from 2012-2021. He won three scoring titles in Houston as well as an MVP award in 2018. The Rockets don’t appear to be anywhere near championship contention, but perhaps that no longer matters as much to Harden.