One of the major questions in the coming offseason is where James Harden will end up. He could re-sign with the Philadelphia 76ers and try chasing an elusive ring with reigning MVP Joel Embiid.
However, there have been months of rumblings that “The Beard” is considering a return to the Houston Rockets, where his superstar turn started. It will take a while before the league finally finds out about his decision. Even he still doesn’t know where he will take his talents, per notable NBA insider Shams Charania.
“I don’t think he knows, as far as what I know about his mindset,” Charania said about Harden during an appearance on Ryen Russillo’s podcast. “I don’t think he totally is there. We’re less than a month out from free agency starting. I really think that he’s torn with the prospect of staying in Philadelphia or moving on to Houston potentially and returning back to his home, and that’s where his roots are. His family’s there, of course.”
The Rockets are expected to be aggressive in free agency
As Charania noted, the Rockets can open up around $60 to $70 million in cap space by the 2023 offseason. That would be enough to bring in Harden and probably another key piece or two to try to contend for the playoffs after a three-year absence.
Some might wonder why the 33-year-old would think of leaving Philadelphia, where he doesn’t have to carry the load offensively thanks to Embiid. In addition, the Sixers are led by the president of basketball operations, Daryl Morey, with whom Harden has had a pretty good relationship since their time together in Houston.
James Harden reunited with Daryl Morey 💙
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) February 12, 2022
But the Rockets have a few advantages in the Harden sweepstakes, such as the star guard reportedly loving residing in Houston. Moreover, Philly can only offer $9 million more than the Rockets can. And with Texas having no income tax, the 10-time All-Star would probably end up taking home more money if he chooses his former team.