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NBA insider claims James Harden could be top free agent target of title contender

It looks like there could be a third top contender for James Harden in NBA free agency outside of previously mentioned suitors the Philadelphia 76ers and the Houston Rockets.

NBA free agency in 2023 is not the most stacked group of basketball mercenaries the league has seen in recent summers. However, there are still many worthwhile players on the market, including a former NBA MVP.

Related: Top 2023 NBA free agents – Best 100 available with positional breakdowns

Sixers star James Harden is expected to opt out of the final year of his contract soon and hit the open market. While Philadelphia is expected to do all they can to maintain their big two of Harden and reigning MVP Joel Embiid, another team is viewed as the top contender for the 10-time All-Star.

Since December, the Houston Rockets — an organization with the most available cap space this offseason — has been linked to an expected reunion with James Harden this summer. The team has not had much progress during their four-season rebuild and is looking to get back to relevancy and the playoffs immediately next season.

James Harden stats (’22-’23): 21.0 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 10.7 APG, 1.2 SPG, 39% 3PT

james harden
Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

However, it seems like a favorite to reach the NBA Finals next season could also be in the hunt for Harden on July 1 as well. On Wednesday, it was reported that the Phoenix Suns could soon cut NBA legend Chris Paul. And an NBA insider believes that move may tip the team’s hand about their plans this summer.

During a Wednesday appearance on ESPN Los Angeles radio show “Mason & Ireland“, network insider Ramona Shelburne suggested that “[Phoenix] don’t [release Paul] unless they feel pretty good about somebody else, and I want you to keep your eye on James Harden. I don’t want to report anything, but that was in the wind the past month or so. Everybody thinks it’s Philly or Houston, but there have been discussions in the wind.”

While Paul hasn’t officially been cut, it seems like a distinct possibility. It was assumed that the Suns could free up cap space to add depth to their roster, but maybe a new ‘big three” of Harden, Kevin Durant, and Devin Booker could be the grand plan for the organization this offseason.

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