The Philadelphia 76ers have won eight of their last nine games, catapulting them into fifth place in the Eastern Conference. Joel Embiid is putting up incredible numbers, inserting himself into MVP conversations early on in the season.
But the good vibes in Philadelphia were put to the test on Christmas Day when a report from Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN revealed that James Harden could consider a return to the Houston Rockets. And now, ESPN’s Zach Lowe has taken the reporting a step further, noting that Harden likely doesn’t want a long-term contract anymore.
“There are a lot of whispers around the league that he wants to continue cycling through one-plus-one kind of deals,” said Lowe.
This past offseason, Harden took a pay cut with the 76ers. The move allowed the team to make additional moves to put them in the best position possible to contend for a championship. This included the signing of forward PJ Tucker.
When this occurred, most assumed that Harden would sign a longer deal with the Sixers next summer. He would be able to earn more money on a deal like that and remain with the 76ers for the future, competing alongside Embiid and Tyrese Maxey. Now, that concept has been called into question.
The veteran guard has been putting together a solid season for the 76ers this year. Harden has appeared in 19 of the team’s 33 games this year and is playing 38.2 minutes per contest. He’s averaging 22.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 11.2 assists per game on 43.2% shooting from the floor and 36.4% shooting from behind the three-point line.
James Harden Breaks Silence on Potential Rockets Return
After being eliminated in the postseason last year, in part due to injuries, the Sixers made a push to improve their title odds. Harden’s pay cut played a big part in that, and Maxey’s continued development has been a big help as well. But now, all of it could be in jeopardy.
After the news came out that Harden may be considering a return to Houston next season, he was asked about the report. While he said he doesn’t know where it came from, he failed to blatantly deny its validity.
“I’m here,” he told reporters, per Ky Carlin of Sixers Wire. “We’re playing very well and I don’t know where that report came from, but I’m excited to be here and we’re playing very well. We’re continuing to get better.”
Joel Embiid Takes Blame for Wizards Loss
Philadelphia’s streak-breaking loss to the Wizards was a tough pill to swallow, especially considering the fact that Embiid dropped 48 points. Despite that, he still took the blame for the defeat after the game.
“It was all on me,” said Embiid. “I had a bad last two minutes. That is on me.”
Meanwhile, head coach Doc Rivers also gave his best explanation as to what happened in the loss.
“The last few possession, we got good shots,” said Rivers. “We got Georges a great shot out of a timeout, got Joel a layup out of a timeout, but it was already—I mean, listen, it would’ve been great to steal the game tonight, but they deserved it so much more than us tonight. They play so much harder. Really, I’m just disappointed with how we approached the game tonight.”