On the May 23 episode of “The Hoop Collective,” NBA Insider Brian Windhorst expressed his skepticism surrounding the Houston Rockets‘ pursuit of Philadelphia 76ers‘ star James Harden, believing that Harden is using them to up the Sixers’ offer.
“I still suspect that all of that is one giant leverage play, that what James Harden really wants is to elicit the biggest offer out of the Sixers, even if it isn’t a max. Whatever the number of money is, for as long as many years as he can get, and that this slow dance for months, and these rumors are all sort of tied to that.”
While adding that Kyrie Irving is doing the same thing with his free agency, Windhorst explained why both Irving and Harden are using rival competitors to up the offers.
“Just doing all of this, and whatever he may do between now and free agency to try to get the juiciest offer he can from the team that he’s on because those are the teams (the Sixers and Mavericks) that face the most damage from losing those guys.”
If the Sixers lose Harden, they won’t have the cap space to add a star to replace him in free agency.
Paul George Questiosn Rockets Interest in James Harden
While talking with Rockets guard Jalen Green, NBA star Paul George explained why it’s best for them to roll with Green now instead of adding Harden to the team on “Podcast P with Paul George.”
“Personally, I wouldn’t (pursue Harden),” George told Green. “At this point, that’s your [team]. Like, you’re the King of Houston. They made their decision…on who the future is…When you pick a guy with the fourth pick, he’s our guy. They full-on committed to who the future is. Like you got to go through this. You got to go through being double-teamed, triple-teamed, being a target every time. You gotta go through that.”
George added that adding Harden to the team could prevent Green from growing as a player.
“You bring on someone like James who’s such a ball-dominant player like that’s gonna hinder your growth a little bit. You know what I mean? Regardless of how it can elevate you on another level of him teaching you and you learning off of him, I feel like for you, you’ve already been through the fire. So, let you continue to learn.”
Kendrick Perkins Calls Out James Harden, Sixers
After the Sixers fired head coach Doc Rivers, ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins called out both Harden and the Sixers for the decision on the May 19 episode of ESPN’s First Take.
“To be honest with you, I think Joel Embiid should want Harden to walk. I think he deserves better than James Harden, and if it comes to Harden making the decision on who the coach is gonna be, then I think Joel Embiid should force his way out because here’s the thing, it’s bad enough that they didn’t even consult or even ask Joel Embiid about Doc Rivers or whether or not he wanted to keep Doc Rivers, that’s insulting right there because this is your league MVP.”