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James Harden Next Team Odds: Rockets return favored

Oct 10, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden (1) drives against Cleveland Cavaliers forward Dean Wade (32) in the second quarter at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

James Harden has been a driving force behind Philadelphia’s eight-game winning streak that has elevated the 76ers into the thick of the race at the top of the Eastern Conference.

But could the former NBA Most Valuable Player be eyeing yet another exit strategy?

A Christmas Day report by ESPN indicated that Harden could be considering a return to Houston less than two years after forcing a trade from the Rockets.

After a tumultuous stint with Brooklyn, Harden was dealt to Philadelphia last year. He signed a two-year, $68.6 million contract and has teamed with star center Joel Embiid for a formidable one-two punch for the 76ers (20-12).

However, the report said that the 33-year-old Harden could opt out of the final year of his contract depending on how the rest of this season plays out.

That spurred SportsBetting.ag to install odds on Harden’s next team — if he leaves Philadelphia. The sportsbook is offering -180 odds that he’s on the 76ers’ roster to begin next season compared to +140 odds that he’s playing for any other NBA team.

James Harden Next Team Odds*
Houston Rockets (2-1)
Miami Heat (5-1)
Boston Celtics (7-1)
Dallas Mavericks (7-1)
Los Angeles Lakers (8-1)
New York Knicks (8-1)
Chicago Bulls (9-1)
Los Angeles Clippers (10-1)
San Antonio Spurs (10-1)
Atlanta Hawks (12-1)
Denver Nuggets (12-1)
*If not with Philadelphia

Even though he wanted to leave Houston from a basketball standpoint, ESPN said Harden favors the city’s lifestyle and has family there and, as he gets older, might put community over desire to compete for a title right away.

Harden began his career with the Oklahoma City Thunder, who selected him No. 3 overall in the 2009 NBA Draft. He was the centerpiece of an Oct. 27, 2012, trade that sent him to Houston.

He spent eight-plus seasons with the Rockets, leading them to the playoffs each year, twice advancing to — and losing — the Western Conference final. He won three straight NBA scoring titles and was the MVP in 2017-18, but he grew disenchanted, and the Rockets traded him to the Nets as part of a blockbuster, four-team trade on Jan. 13, 2021.

He never meshed with fellow stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in Brooklyn and was traded to the Sixers in February in a mega deal that saw Philadelphia part with Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and two future first-round picks for Harden and Paul Millsap.

This season, Harden is averaging 21.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and 11.1 assists per game.

–Field Level Media