Sixers Rival Signing James Harden Viewed as ‘Increasingly Uncertain’: Report

James Harden

Getty James Harden of the Philadelphia 76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers continue to get encouraging news regarding James Harden’s free agency. ESPN’s Jeremy Woo revealed that the Houston Rockets‘ draft decision may depend on what happens with Harden while also revealing that going to his former team is far from a foregone conclusion.

“One potential factor in the decision is James Harden’s potential return to the Rockets — a situation that rival teams have come to view as increasingly uncertain in recent weeks,” Woo wrote.

The increasing uncertainty surrounding Harden going back to the Rockets could play well for the Sixers. Not just because they could re-sign him, but they may not have to pay top dollar for him if their competitors aren’t completely sold on bringing him in on a max contract.

Harden will turn 34 before the 2023-24 season begins and is coming off yet another disappointing playoff run, which may or may not have affected how interested parties see his worth on the open market.

Doc Rivers Says Coaching James Harden Was ‘Challenging’

Former Sixers head coach Doc Rivers talked about his time with the team on the June 13 episode of “The Bill Simmons Podcast,” which included what it was like to coach Harden.

Rivers delved into how hard it was to coach Harden, believing that the two of them had different approaches to basketball.

“It was challenging. More because we were fighting two things, and not like visually fighting. James was so good at playing one way, and the way I believe you have to play to win, in some ways, is different because it’s a lot of giving up the ball, moving the ball, and coming back to the ball,” Rivers told Simmons.

Rivers added that the Sixers played at their best when Harden balanced himself well as a scorer and playmaker, then started to decline when that balance changed.

“At times, to get him to move and play the way I needed him to play [was challenging]. I thought the first half of the year, we were the best team in the game. I thought James was playing perfect basketball. He was a point guard of the team. He was still scoring, but he was doing more playmaking and scoring. And then the second half, he started scoring more, and I thought we got more stagnant at times.”

Chris Paul-James Harden Trade Has ‘Circulated’

Even though the teams linked most to Harden this offseason have been the Sixers and the Rockets, NBA Insider Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports reported that a potential trade involving Harden and his former teammate, Chris Paul of the Phoenix Suns, has been brought up.

“There’s the idea of Phoenix exchanging Paul for James Harden, which has quietly circulated around some league personnel since the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago,” Fischer wrote on June 9. “A reunion between Harden and Durant makes for great fodder, and the bearded point guard could feasibly pick up his 2023-24 player option on the condition Philadelphia trades him to the Suns.”

Fischer added that Paul himself did something like that before, but doing so may not be the best financial choice for Harden.

“You may remember Paul pulled that exact maneuver to join Harden in Houston in 2017. Harden, though, stands to gain quite a bit more financially from either staying pat with the 76ers or returning to the Rockets and their $60-plus million in-waiting cap space.”