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James Harden ‘seriously considering’ Houston Rockets return this summer

NBA superstar James Harden is reportedly pondering a return to the Houston Rockets this summer if things don’t work out in his first full season with the Philadelphia 76ers.

The 76ers have had a challenging start to the 2022-2023 season. They entered the season with immense expectations as MVP candidate Joel Embiid and Harden had an entire summer and training camp to build chemistry. Yet, injuries and a slow start for their star center led to a sluggish first month of the season.

However, in recent weeks the team seems to be building serious momentum with Embiid in midseason form and Harden healthy and in the best shape of his career. Their defense is one of the best in the league, and they seem to be evolving into a serious contender to reach the NBA Finals. And they aren’t even at full strength with young star Tyrese Maxey still sidelined with a foot injury.

Related: NBA insider suggests Rockets and James Harden reunion possible this summer

Despite the positive vibes, Harden remaining in Philadelphia beyond this season is not guaranteed. And new rumors seem to point to the Houston Rockets being a serious contender for his services if he opts out of his contract this summer.

James Harden reportedly open to reunion with Houston Rockets next season

Dec 23, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden (1) drives past Los Angeles Clippers guard Terance Mann (14) in the second quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

In an attempt to win a championship with the 76ers, Harden signed a team-friendly two-year deal with Philadelphia this summer. However, the second year of the contract has a player option that would allow him to return to NBA free agency next season and look for one final monster contract.

A team that is expected to be players in the market this offseason is the Houston Rockets — a franchise that James Harden was a nine-time All-Star with during the previous decade. Earlier this week, reports claimed that the team would be open to bringing him back despite the ugly end to their relationship several seasons ago.

  • James Harden stats (2022): 21.4 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 10.9 APG, 1.3 SPG, 36% 3PT

Well, a Christmas Day report from ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski claims the feeling is mutual. “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.”

This will be a major story to watch as the season unfold. If the 76ers fell well short of their goals, as they did in last season’s playoffs, it would make a great deal of sense if Harden sought out massive and a low-pressure situation for a rebuilding Houston Rockets team, instead of in a championship-starved and high-expectation environment in Philadelphia.