James Harden still has a few months left on his 2022-2023 contract with the Philadelphia 76ers, however, the rumblings of opting out and returning to the Houston Rockets this summer continue to grow.
The 76ers are one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference this season. After a slow start, as they battled through injuries to key players, Philadelphia has been dominant in the new year and is primed to be a serious contender to reach this year’s NBA Finals. Yet, for all the positive vibes surrounding the roster led by Harden and MVP candidate Joel Embiid, there is a looming fear it may not last beyond this season.
The reason for this is a December ESPN report that suggested the 14-time All-Star would seriously consider a return to the organization he played eight and a half seasons for, the Houston Rockets. The future Hall-of-Famer has an out option in his 76ers contract after this season and is expected to exercise it.
An eventual opt-out became virtually guaranteed last week when Harden hired new representation for the first time in years. With the assumption he wants skilled professionals negotiating what could be one last monster contract this summer. The Rockets will have a huge amount of cap space in the offseason, and speculation from an industry insider Monday again pointed to a Harden and Rockets reunion.
NBA insider puts 70-percent odds on James Harden return to Houston Rockets
Earlier this week, The Athletic NBA writer Kelly Iko appeared on “The Bradeaux & Will Show” podcast and spoke about Harden’s future, and why it will likely be in Houston next season.
“I’m putting it at a seven out of 10. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. James loves this city and the young guys on the roster. Crazier things have happened. Don’t call me crazy. But you might be seeing something different.”– Kelly Iko (h/t Sports Illustrated)
James Harden earned All-Star honors each season in Houston, including winning the NBA MVP award in the 2017-2018 season. He eventually forced his way out of town and to the Brooklyn Nets in 2021. Before again not liking the situation with his current team and pushed for a trade out of New York and to Philadelphia the following year.
- James Harden stats (’22-’23): 21.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 10.8 APG, 1.2 SPG, 36% 3PT
The Rockets are ranked 29th in our latest NBA power rankings.