The Philadelphia 76ers might want to run it back next season, but the possibility of James Harden leaving the team is looming.
Even after a disappointing postseason that saw him average 20.3 points per game on 39.3 percent shooting, the former MVP could still land a lucrative deal in free agency. According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, there is an “appetite” around the league for the star guard to earn a four-year contract worth over $200 million.
Harden could re-sign with Philadelphia on a four-year, $210.1 million deal, which is the most his current team can offer him based on the CBA. However, it remains to be seen if the Sixers are willing to make that type of commitment.
On the other hand, even if Philadelphia does want to retain him, it might not have enough leverage, considering that the best it can offer Harden is less than $10 million more than what other suiters can bring to the table. Competing teams can offer Harden a four-year deal worth $201.7 million.
So, chances are the ball will be in the 10-time All-Star’s court.
The three-time NBA scoring champion has not made any indication as to where he plans on bringing his talents next, but rumors of him reuniting with the Houston Rockets, the franchise where he made his superstar leap, are continuing to abound.
Harden’s potential fit in Houston is a bit perplexing to some. The Rockets do have plenty of promising players, including Jalen Green, Jabari Smith Jr., Alperen Sengun and whoever they choose with No. 4 pick of the 2023 NBA Draft. However, all of them are on the younger side and might not give the superstar the best opportunity to contend for a championship in the near future.
If Harden wants to chase a ring, he might be better off staying put and playing with league MVP Joel Embiid. The Sixers will also be looking to hire a new head coach after the organization let go of Doc Rivers, which Harden reportedly had a hand in.
James Harden was a ‘driving force’ behind Doc Rivers’ firing, per @JakeLFischer pic.twitter.com/tE1miNdaZJ
— NBACentral (@TheNBACentral) May 18, 2023
Of course, there is also the possibility of another team swooping in and giving Harden a chance to join a totally different group. Thanks in part to the uncertainties surrounding the franchise, the Sixers and their fans have some interesting months coming up.