It could be just a leverage ploy, but 76ers star guard James Harden and the Rockets may be back together again.
At least, that’s been considered a possibility since first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski back on Christmas Day.
The latest comes from Sam Amick and Kelly Iko of The Athletic, who wrote that Harden and the Rockets are indeed interested in a reunion this offseason.
It’s hard to believe because the Sixers are contenders and the Rockets have the league’s worst record. The potential fit could best be described as questionable.
But Harden is expected to decline the player option on his contract this summer and the Rockets will be in heavy pursuit, per Amick and Iko. Harden is also said to be close with Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta.
“From an emotional standpoint, sources with knowledge of his thinking continue to maintain that while Harden’s head and focus are on winning a championship with the 76ers, his heart will always be in Houston,” Amick and Iko. “It’s a comfort zone, his safe space.”
Since most fans don’t really care about the hows and whys — only which players will go where next — just know that Harden-to-Houston has now been reported by multiple respected news outlets. So there is highly likely something to it.
But by all accounts, a lot will be determined by how the Sixers finish, and perhaps what the Rockets do in the lottery. Mostly, whoever gives Harden the biggest contract is likely to win. Money generally trumps the heartstrings, especially in a situation such as this.
Harden is 34-years old and still pretty good, but his next deal could be his last. If it means taking a big offer to return as a senior citizen with the Rockets, well, you’d better believe there’s a chance.
“Houston believes it is a legitimate possibility and that’s not coming out of thin air,” ESPN’s Tim MacMahon said on The Hoop Collective podcast. “James Harden still spends a lot of time in Houston. Spends his summers in Houston. Works out at the Rockets’ facility on a regular basis. It’s a very real possibility. And Harden, by the way, never shot it down. He just said ‘I don’t know where that came from.’”
Looking for the latest NBA Insider News & Rumors?
Be sure to follow Hoops Wire on TWITTER and FACEBOOK for breaking NBA News and Rumors for all 32 teams!