James Harden successfully pressured the Houston Rockets into trade him less than two years ago, but the 10-time All-Star might be interested in a reunion.
Harden and those close to him have been openly considering a return to Houston after the season, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports.
Harden signed a two-year, $68.6 million extension with the Philadelphia 76ers in July. The deal includes a player option that will allow him to become a free agent next summer. Whether or not Harden remains in Philadelphia will likely depend on how close the Sixers look to being a championship contender down the stretch and in the playoffs.
Even though Harden forced his way out of Houston, Wojnarowski was told by sources that the 33-year-old still has family there and is “drawn to the community.” The Rockets are 9-23 this season and one of the worst teams in the NBA, but there is a scenario where Harden could choose familiarity over immediately contending for an NBA title.
The Rockets have been trying to develop their young core of Jalen Green, Jabari Smith and Kevin Porter Jr. They will have plenty of salary cap space this offseason, but Houston officials would need to evaluate whether they feel bringing Harden back would help them accomplish their goals.
Like with the Rockets, Harden had issues with the Brooklyn Nets last year before he was traded to Philly. Wojnarowski describes his relationships with Joel Embiid and 76ers head coach Doc Rivers as “something close to a work in progress.”
Harden is averaging 21.4 points, 10.9 assists and 6.6 rebounds this season. The Sixers have won seven straight games heading into their Christmas Day game against the New York Knicks.