The consensus thinking around the NBA is that the Phoenix Suns will make major roster changes during the 2023 free-agency period. And with an aging Chris Paul still owed more than $30 million next season, some believe a buyout could be on the horizon. Those thoughts seemed like even more of a possibility when NBA insider Brian Geltzeiler of Sirius XM reported that the Suns were “prominently on his radar” when referring to pending free agent superstar James Harden.
But as the free agency period drawers closer, Harden has already begun trimming down his list of preferred destinations. And unfortunately for the Suns, they have already been eliminated from the running. Per NBA insider Shams Charania, Harden has narrowed his choices to the Philadelphia 76ers and Houston 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 during a recent appearance on the Ryen Russillo podcast.
“We’re less than a month out from free agency starting. I think he’s torn with the prospect of staying in Philadelphia or moving on to Houston potentially and returning back to his home. That’s where his roots are, and his family there, of course. They’ve got upwards of $60 million [in cap space]. They can make even more money available. Close to $70 million in cap space.”
Rockets To Take ‘Aggressive’ Approach This Summer
The Rockets seem to be looking to retool this summer. They parted ways with former head coach Stephen Silas ahead of the 2023 NBA Draft, where they will be selecting fourth overall. Now they have a brand-new coach in Ime Udoka, and much of his staff from the Boston Celtics squad that went to the NBA Finals in 2022 will join him in Houston.
The Rockets already have an impressive coop of young players such as Jaylen Green, Jabarai Smith Jr, and Kevin Porter Jr. And after being absent from the playoffs since the NBA Bubble, Charania expects the Rockets to be “aggressive” in building around their roster this summer.
“They’re going to have a ton of money and I think this is a team in Houston where I do believe they are going to be aggressive in the marketplace, potentially two-year deals, balloon-type deals,” Charania added.
“I’ve heard whether it’s Dillon Brooks, Brook Lopez, obviously James Harden. They’re going to be a team that’s going to be trying to beef up that roster.”
James Harden To Meet With Sixers About Future
Something to consider in Harden’s potential free agency is that he still has yet to win a championship. And while the Rockets have some solid, young players, they are nowhere near the tear of being an NBA title contender. The Sixers, on the other hand, have the reigning NBA Most Valuable Player in Joel Embiid and came within a game of reaching the NBA Eastern Conference Finals this season.
While Houston is among the favorites to reunite with their former MVP, Charania says that Harden returning to the Sixers is still a possibility.
“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,” Charania added.
“This is a guy that you would assume would sit down with both teams. Philadelphia is going to have a window earlier, potentially going in and scheduling meetings. This is a situation now where we’re going to see which way it lands.”