Nets star guard James Harden is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason and seems set to explore the market, per Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.
That doesn’t mean Harden intends to leave, it just means he might likely to weigh his options. He even indicated as much in training camp, telling reporters, “I’ve never been a free agent before. I’ve always just been loyal, just signing contract extensions.”
Harden has a player option worth $47.4 million on his contract this offseason, but he’s expected to turn it down in search of a longer deal. The Nets, of course, are best-positioned to give him one.
But Fischer noted a few reasons for concern, as Harden has supposedly expressed frustration over Kyrie Irving‘s status as someone who can only play in road games, as well as coach Steve Nash‘s rotations.
“According to multiple sources, Harden has not enjoyed living in Brooklyn, compared to his days as a central Houston magnate,” Fischer wrote. “Outside of the change in climate, the chasm between state taxes in New York versus Texas is quite obvious as well.”
So Harden may very well welcome another fresh start elsewhere.
Of course, there are also all the rumors that the 76ers strongly intend to pursue Harden during the offseason. The man in pursuit, 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey, remains close with Harden after their days together with the Rockets.
Whatever happens next with Harden, it’s not likely to take place before the Feb. 10 trade deadline, Fischer reported. But the offseason could bring something very different.
“Philadelphia is not necessarily holding onto Simmons to acquire Harden this summer,” Fischer wrote. “But it seems both the Sixers front office and Harden himself are viewing that potential marriage as a backstop for their respective futures.”
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