There were rumors of it all season. it feels like anyone time there was any big Sixers game Adrian Wojnarowski would put out the story that James Harden was serious about returning to Houston this offseason. And then the Sixers lost to the Celtics in the playoffs. Harden opted out of his Sixers contract a couple of days later. Keith Pompey reported today that James Harden is planning on reuniting with the Rockets once Free Agency begins.
[Source: Keith Pompey]
James Harden is expected to reunite with the Houston Rockets this offseason, per @PompeyOnSixers— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 19, 2023
News that will be a relief for some Sixers fans. James Harden came up incredibly small in the playoffs once again this year. Yes, he had games 1 and 4 where he won it nearly by himself. But in games 2, 3, 6, and 7 he was one of the main reasons they lost. It has been a reoccurring problem for him. He struggled last season vs the Heat too in the 2nd round. While he had the injured hamstring excuse in that series, there is no such excuse this time.
What is next? Well, we will have to see if Harden just signs there, or if the two sides work out a sign-and-trade. If he walks, the Sixers are left with little cap space, and James Harden gets less money than he could get in a sign-and-trade. So it would make sense for both Sixers and Harden to work something out. How much they would get back? That is another question. It is hard to negotiate a good deal when you only have one team to talk to. But something is better than nothing.
The Sixers will need to find a starting PG in his place. And they will need a 2nd star to play Superman to Joel Embiid’s Batman. Ideally someone with a history of playing well in the playoffs. With very little to use as trade bait and minimal cap space, it is not clear how the Sixers will pull that off. But at least for now, it does not seem they will have to commit 4-years of max money to James Harden. We will find out if that is for the best going forward.