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Could James Harden leave the Philadelphia 76ers for the Houston Rockets this offseason? Time is a flat circle, and Harden has a ‘magnetic pull’ to the Houston area.
Despite a 76ers win at Madison Square Garden on Christmas Day, the biggest story as it pertains to Philadelphia basketball is James Harden.
A report dropped by Adrian Wojnarowski just hours prior to tip-off between the 76ers and Knicks suggested that Harden would be open to a return to Houston, despite requesting a trade out just a few years ago.
Per Woj, “All-Star guard James Harden is seriously considering a return to the Houston Rockets in free agency this July — if he decides against a new deal with the Philadelphia 76ers, sources told ESPN.”
Why would James Harden leave the 76ers for Rockets?
James Harden has good relationships with many in the Houston front office despite his departure, as Daryl Morey has since moved on to Philadelphia, where he is now the current 76ers GM with Harden in place. With a new regime in charge, Harden’s trade request is water under the bridge.
Per Houston area radio host Adam Spolane, Harden is also on good terms with many of the young Rockets stars:
“James Harden has relationships with many of the young Rockets that have followed him, and he played pick-up with many of them at Toyota Center this summer. Kevin Porter Jr, Jalen Green, Jabari Smith Jr, and Josh Christopher were among the players to take part.”
Those connections could play a major role in making Houston the primary backup plan for Harden. Houston already has a decent core in place, with Green leading the way as a former No. 2 overall selection. Green has held a grudge since he was selected second after Pistons guard Cade Cunningham, considering himself to be the best talent in the 2021 draft class.
It’s that mentality that has endeared him to Houston, and perhaps what will draw Harden next.
Would the 76ers consider trading James Harden?
Trading a player like James Harden seems very unlikely for the 76ers. Philadelphia remains in the playoff hunt, as they’re fifth in the Eastern Conference with Tyrese Maxey coming back next week. To trade Harden is to admit defeat with this corps of players.
Harden is also making over $30 million per season, and he will honor that contract. He’s familiar with Daryl Morey, as well, so there’s unlikely to be any contentiousness until the offseason, when Harden has the ability to opt out of his two-year deal.