The two teams most commonly associated with James Harden this offseason have been the Philadelphia 76ers and Houston Rockets. NBA Insider Ramona Shelburne floated a new possible team in the Harden sweepstakes – the Phoenix Suns.
During a June 7 appearance on “Mason & Ireland” on ESPN Los Angeles, Shelburne mentioned the Suns as a possible suitor for Harden shortly after it had been reported by Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes that the Suns were planning to waive Chris Paul (which was later refuted by The Athletic’s Shams Charania).
“They don’t (waive Paul) unless they feel pretty good about somebody else, and I want you to keep your eye on James Harden,” Shelburne said. “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.”
When asked if Harden and Durant were cool with one another, Shelburne confirmed that they are on good terms.
“(They’re) totally okay. Remember, they flew to Europe and hung out in London last summer.”
Durant and Harden have experience playing together on the Oklahoma City Thunder and Brooklyn Nets.
James Harden ‘Torn’ on Free Agent Decision
“I don’t think he knows. As far as what I know about his mindset, I don’t think he totally is there,” Charania said. “We’re less than a month out from free agency starting. I really think he’s torn with the prospect of staying in Philadelphia or moving on to Houston potentially and returning back to his home.”
Charania added who on Philly’s end could influence Harden’s decision, including new head coach Nick Nurse.
“I think whichever way it goes, it’s going to be relatively close. That’s why as we get closer to July 1, June 30th, those conversations that he’s going to have, as he becomes a free agent, with Nick Nurse and with Daryl Morey, what their vision is for him, what their vision is for that team, what that offer ultimately is going to be versus comparing it to whatever Houston comes with on June 30th or July 1, those are all very important factors.”
James Harden Predicted to Leave Sixers
Ky Carlin of Sixers Wire made a list of predictions of how the offseason will play out for each Sixer entering free agency
Carlin explained that because of all the reports of Harden’s interest in returning to the Rockets combined with what the Sixers are willing, or not willing, to offer him, he believes Harden departs Philly.
“Harden has been linked to a reunion with the Houston Rockets since Christmas Day. The Beard hasn’t exactly denied those reports, but one could figure that maybe he is using that as leverage to coax the Sixers into giving him more money. The Sixers are unlikely to give him a $200 million contract, but Harden and Morey have a close relationship, so one has to figure they will be able to work something out.
“Either way, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. These reports have been gaining steam, and one has to think Harden will likely be off to Houston.