In the 2022 offseason, James Harden re-signed with the Philadelphia 76ers on a 1+1 deal meaning that he can opt-out in the 2023 offseason if he feels fit. Of course, that could be just to re-up again in Philadelphia on a different deal, but a wrinkle was thrown into that plan on Christmas Day.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Harden is seriously considering a return to the Houston Rockets in 2023 free agency. The Beard spent over eight seasons in Houston and he had most of his success with the franchise, and as he nears the end of a Hall of Fame career, it would make sense why he would like to return there.
However, Harden is also chasing a championship. It’s the only thing missing from his career and, at the moment, the Rockets aren’t in a position to be a contender. They have a ton of very nice pieces, but they are still young and developing from their rebuild.
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith offered some more tidbits on Harden’s interest in a Rockets reunion:
One of the reasons he, remember they didn’t have to let them go at that moment in time, but they were willing to do so because obviously James Harden had basically told them ‘You know what, this is someplace that I want to come back to the in my career. I just need to find myself in a better situation to compete for a championship.’ His original target was Philadelphia with Daryl Morey. That wasn’t going to happen after Daryl Morey and Houston severed ties the way that they did. So he settled on Brooklyn and ultimately ended up forcing his way to Philadelphia, but in the end, what it comes down to is this, they’re the only ones where he got a shot to get that money he wants. Nobody else will give James Harden that money. Not at this stage and point in his career, even though we saw him impressive the other night against the Clippers, and we know what he’s capable of doing as an all around player. The bottom line is he’s not what he used to be.
If it is about the money, then so be it. One can’t blame him for that. The Rockets have a ton of cap space for the 2023 free agency process and Harden has a family to take care of.
However, do the Rockets feel the same way? Smith added:
I’m saying once upon a time, that’s what they were saying. Whether they feel that way now? Maybe not, but James Harden feels that way because he knows that’s where the money is, potentially.
Either way, the Harden situation will be a very interesting one to look at as the Sixers continue with their championship quest.
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