The chatter regarding James Harden potentially returning to play for the Houston Rockets is heating up.
Harden spent his best years as a member of the Rockets. All 6 of his First Team All-NBA selections came while playing in Houston, and he won league MVP in 2018. In 2016-17, he led the league in assists, and he was the NBA’s scoring leader during his final three seasons there.
James Harden Could Make A Return To Houston Rockets
“#Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta “loves” the 76ers point guard. The franchise expects to reunite with him.”
Tilman Fertitta told Harden “You’re always welcome back here” when he left in 2020. https://t.co/ie9BUfoCgQ pic.twitter.com/5MMq6FvV9J
— Bradeaux (@BradeauxNBA) May 19, 2023
Before landing in Philadelphia and playing alongside Joel Embiid for the last two seasons, Harden had a quick stop in Brooklyn that turned out to be a disappointment for the team.
But after the 76ers Game 7 loss to the Celtics last weekend, the point guard could be on the search for greener pastures this summer. Or redder?
There has long been talk about what James Harden will do with his future. He has never given the 76ers a long term commitment, neither verbally nor officially, and he has a player option on his contract for the upcoming season. Some have speculated that he plans to return to Houston, and those voices are starting to become louder.
James Harden is expected to reunite with the Houston Rockets this offseason, per @PompeyOnSixers
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 19, 2023
There has always been reported mutual interest. Recent reports say that Rockets’ owner Tilman Firtitta “loves” Harden, and told him that he’d always be welcome back when he left back in 2020. And while Harden hasn’t officially commented on the current situation, he has never held back in giving love to the city where he became a star.
Before facing the Rockets back in December, James Harden had this to say about Houston:
“The love and feelings are mutual. That’s never going to change. Like I said, I still own my home here. A lot of family still lives here. That feeling won’t change… Having that family environment around me is a little different.”
It likely isn’t a power play to get more money out of the 76ers. Sources close to Harden have said that his interest in returning to play for the Rockets is genuine, and that he won’t have a problem opting out of the $35 million that he is owed next season. Given Houston’s affection to him, coming back to the franchise would likely make him more money in the end.
The sports books and oddsmakers most certainly agree. The Rockets are overwhelming favorites to land James Harden should he leave the 76ers. They are currently listed at -400, with the nearest competition being the Phoenix Suns at +300. Those are really the only two feasible possibilities, as the Dallas Mavericks come in at number three, but at a very distant +1400.
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