Now that the 76ers’ season has ended, star guard James Harden has an opportunity to opt of out his contract and test free agency.
That is precisely what Harden is expected to do — and a return to the Rockets is in play, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
This isn’t the first mention of Harden possibly reuniting with the Rockets. Wojnarowski brought it up way back on Christmas Day. Other similar reports have since followed.
The Rockets, of course, are taking part in the NBA Draft lottery for a shot at French center Victor Wembanyama, expected to have franchise-altering talent. Regardless of what happens in the lottery, the Rockets will pursue Harden, Wojnarowski said on Get Up.
“Houston may be his way to get him the kind of guaranteed money, long-term money he wants from Philly,” Wojnarowski said. “But I wouldn’t underestimate it as just a leverage play. I think he’s very serious about returning. And Philadelphia now, they have strong relationships in that organization from Daryl Morey, starting with him in their front office. It’s going to be a really interesting couple of months.”
The Rockets recently hired Ime Udoka as coach, and it is believed they are aiming to make a big jump next season by adding veterans. They may be willing to part with young talents, such as guards Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr., to make it happen.
But for now, it all seems dependent on what Harden does next. Should he return to Philadelphia, the youth movement in Houston is likely to carry on.
Either way, Harden is expected to decline his $35.6 million player option and seek a longer deal.
.@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