The Philadelphia 76ers have some big decisions on their hands. Chief among them will be whether to pay up to keep James Harden and if they want to keep head coach Doc Rivers for another season. It appears that both of these decisions could be linked to one another, as ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reported that Harden sticking around could be contingent on Rivers’ firing.
Shelburne first revealed Harden’s rocky relationship with Rivers before revealing how it could impact Harden’s choice to stick around with the Sixers.
“James Harden was not all that supportive of Doc Rivers in his press conference yesterday,” Shelburne said. “Behind the scenes, from what I’m told, that one person said it would be hard for me to see James wanting to come back and play for Doc again. This is going to be a situation where those two decisions are linked.”
Shelburne elaborated on how Harden’s decision and the Sixers’ decision with Rivers would be connected to one another.
“As we go forward into this offseason and you have another second-round exit, you have to decide if you want to lock in your future around those two guys, and then if you’re doing that, what does that mean for Doc Rivers because the decision seems to be linked.”
Even if the Sixers wind up firing Rivers anyway, there’s no guarantee that Harden will stay with the team if that’s the case.
James Harden’s Return to Houston a ‘Very Real Possibility’
“It was a real possibility back on Christmas, and it remains so now that the Sixers are in the offseason that we’re started to head toward July free agency. Houston’s a very real possibility for Philadelphia’s James Harden in free agency. They’ve got upwards of $60 million in cap space. They want to be much better next season,” Wojnarowski said on ESPN’s Get Up on May 15.
Despite the Rockets having a rebuilding team, they will take no issue pursuing Harden even if they win the lottery, according to Wojnarowski.
“There’s a comfort level in Houston for James Harden. He’s got family there. He’s very comfortable in that environment, and this is an organization where he knows ownership. He knows the front office, and I think regardless for the Rockets of whether or not they won the draft lottery, if they win the lottery tomorrow night here in Chicago, and they’re the ones who can draft Victor Wembayana, my sense is that would not necessarily change the Rockets’ intentions to pursue James Harden.”
Joel Embiid May Request Trade if James Harden Leaves
Joel Embiid may be the next to go if Harden decides to go back to the Rockets. Zach Braziller of the New York Post reported that Embiid may want out of Philadelphia if Harden reunites with the Rockets.
‘There have been whispers that Joel Embiid could want out of Philadelphia if free-agent-to-be James Harden goes back to the Rockets, as has been rumored,” Braziller said.
He added the one issue Embiid has should he make a trade demand.
“But Embiid — who was once repped by Knicks president Leon Rose — is under contract for three more seasons.”