While all signs seem to point to a Houston Rockets and James Harden reunion being very realistic, it seems that the one thing that could really hold up a potential deal will be how much money the Rockets are willing to pay for his services.
The 2022-2023 NBA season is officially done and observers of the sport are now shifting their focus to the offseason. And while they were one of the worst teams in the league this season, the Houston Rockets are expected to be power players this summer.
The team has a high-value pick in this month’s NBA Draft and the most available cap space in the league. While they are in play for multiple players after July 1, reports since December have pointed to Philadelphia 76ers star James Harden being their top priority in NBA free agency.
A Harden pursuit is interesting since he became a superstar and one-time NBA MVP in Houston, and his departure led to the team’s current rebuild. However, with a desire to return to prominence, the organization seems to see a reunion with the 10-time All-Star as the best way to do that.
Houston Rockets reportedly don’t want to give James Harden a max deal
Yet, while a return seems inevitable to many, that is far from a guarantee based on some new intel. On Tuesday, Hoopshype NBA insider Michael Scotto revealed that “there are rumblings the Rockets don’t want to give him a max contract.” That is a very interesting wrinkle to add to this free agency dynamic and it’s understandable.
James Harden is still a star in the league, however, the fact remains that he turns 34 in August, and his best days a certainly behind him. A max deal from the Houston Rockets would be for four years and just over $200 million. Which is around $10 million less than the 76ers can offer.
Scotto also notes that family ties are playing a key role in a possible return to Houston. Harden could also be open to a discount rate if he has some say in the other star he could play alongside in 2023-2024.