The biggest plotline for the Philadelphia 76ers this offseason will be if James Harden elects to stay with the team or leave for the Houston Rockets. Though there’s been plenty of speculation that Harden may leave for the Rockets, NBA Insider Shams Charania revealed on the June 6 episode of “The Ryan Russillo Podcast” that Harden is not sure where he’ll play next season.
Charania revealed that Harden is currently torn on his free-agent decision this summer between the Sixers and the Rockets.
“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 how new Sixers head coach Nick Nurse may factor into Harden’s decision this summer.
“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.”
Nick Nurse’s Thoughts on Keeping James Harden
Nurse was asked about the prospect of coaching Harden during his introductory press conference on June 1. Nurse praised Harden while also vocalizing that he would like to have the former MVP on the roster.
“James Harden is a great player,” Nurse said. “I would say this is that James has a decision to make, and I would be very happy if he came back.”
Nurse also revealed what his pitch will be to Harden and all the other players currently on the Sixers.
“I am going to sit down, as I am with all of the guys. I am going to sit down with all of them 1-on-1, face-to-face here shortly, but listen, I think that winning is always the sell,” Nurse said, per Ky Carlin of Sixers Wire.
Fred VanVleet Named as Possible James Harden Replacement
“Leaving the Sixers after just one full season and signing elsewhere as an unrestricted free agent is a very real possibility for Harden, which is why Philadelphia has begun giving thought as to who could replace the former league MVP. According to league sources close to the organization, Raptors All-Star guard Fred VanVleet has emerged as a potential replacement for Harden this offseason.”
VanVleet is not only fresh off a 2022 All-Star campaign, but he has plenty of familiarity with Nurse as the head coach as well as having a title under his belt. He does not have the same resume as Harden, but he would be a good consolation prize, especially since he is younger than Harden too.