All indications are that James Harden will not only enter free agency this summer, but his two biggest suitors will be the Philadelphia 76ers and Houston Rockets. Though Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on May 19 that Harden is expected to reunite with the Rockets, NBA insider Marc Stein revealed in a Substack chat that the Sixers have not given up on re-signing him.
“From everything I know, Houston’s interest remains genuine, and Philly has not yet abandoned hope of re-signing him. I know this isn’t the answer everyone probably wants to hear…but I suspect we’re a month away from a real resolution,” Stein wrote.
While the Sixers are a team built to go on an extended playoff run, the Rockets are still in a rebuild after they traded Harden back in 2021. However, the Rockets will have over $60 million in cap space this summer and just hired former Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka fresh off a run to the NBA Finals in his first year as head coach, which could indicate their plans to build a winner.
Brian Windhorst Believes James Harden Is Using Rockets
On the May 23 episode of “The Hoop Collective,” NBA Insider Brian Windhorst stated that he believes that the Harden-Rockets rumors are a deliberate leverage play by Harden to get a better offer from the Sixers.
“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.”
Windhorst added that both Harden and Kyrie Irving have the same approach to free agency because they believe their current teams losing them would suffer quite a bit from their loss.
“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.”
Patrick Beverley Plans to Reunite With James Harden
Harden’s former teammate Patrick Beverley gave a few blunt responses when asked about both his free agency and Harden’s this summer.
On “The Pat Bev Podcast,” Beverley answered in the affirmative when about the chances of Harden going back to the Rockets and if Beverley himself would be joining him, as he said the chances of all of that happening are “very highly.”
Beverley revealed that he wanted to go back to the Rockets after the Orlando Magic waived him shortly after the NBA Trade Deadline, but the Rockets told him he wouldn’t get to play much and would only play a mentorship role for some of their younger players.
Beverley and Harden played together from 2013 to 2017 before Beverley was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for Chris Paul.