Report: James Harden’s potential return to Houston Rockets seen as ‘increasingly uncertain’

Jason Simpson
3 Min Read
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

With veteran guard James Harden expected to decline his player option and become a free agent this offseason, there has been lots of chatter about what his future may hold.

The 33-year-old has been linked many times to the Houston Rockets, a team that he spent more than eight seasons with earlier in his career.

However, according to a new report, the idea of Harden returning to Houston is perhaps hitting some rocky waters.

“At this point, Amen Thompson and [Cam] Whitmore are the two names circulating as leading candidates at No. 4,” wrote ESPN’s Jeremy Woo. “One potential factor in the decision is James Harden’s potential return to the Rockets — a situation that rival teams have come to view as increasingly uncertain in recent weeks.”

Harden is reportedly “torn” about his future. He spent the entire 2022-23 season with the Philadelphia 76ers after being traded there during the 2021-22 campaign. In both of those seasons, the Sixers were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs.

If Harden wants to challenge for an NBA title before his time in the league comes to an end, Philadelphia seems like a pretty good place to do it. The Sixers have a talented core in place and may just be a piece away from getting over the hump.

Houston, on the other hand, hasn’t been in the championship conversation in multiple seasons, and that probably wouldn’t change simply due to the arrival of Harden.

But Harden did have some of the best years of his career with the Rockets, and Houston may be a place that simply makes him happy. He won three scoring titles and an MVP award with the Rockets earlier in his career.

The 10-time All-Star is entering his 15th NBA season, and his age has certainly started to show in recent years. He has gone from a generational scorer to more of a pass-first player. This past season, he averaged 21.0 points, 10.7 assists and 6.1 rebounds per game.

He led the league in assists per game during the regular season and had a couple of vintage scoring games during the playoffs, but all things considered, it’s clear that the veteran isn’t the MVP-caliber player he once was. That’s a key part of the situation to consider when discussing his future.

Time will tell where Harden goes from here. With the NBA offseason officially in motion, the former No. 3 overall pick will have to make a decision in the relatively near future.

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