NBA analyst sheds light on James Harden’s uncertain Sixers future with possible Rockets return speculation

The future of James Harden with the Philadelphia 76ers is uncertain as the veteran point guard can opt out of the final year of his contract this summer to become a free agent. There are reports suggesting that Harden could return to the Houston Rockets, his former team. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Rockets are “widely expected to pursue” Harden if he declines his player option for the 2023-24 season.

The Rockets have an estimated $59 million in cap space, making them one of the most financially flexible teams in the NBA this summer. The franchise is said to be “making a real push to improve quickly,” and Harden could be an essential piece to their puzzle. The Rockets are expected to pursue a point guard, a rim-protecting big, and two-way help on the wing to complement their young talent.

Harden spent eight and a half seasons with the Rockets before he was traded to the Brooklyn Nets in 2021. In 621 games with the franchise, he averaged 29.6 points, 6.0 rebounds, 7.7 assists, and 1.8 steals while shooting 44.3 percent from the floor and 36.2 percent from deep. He won three scoring titles, was a nine-time All-Star with the Rockets, and won the 2017-18 MVP award.

The Rockets’ biggest problem during Harden’s tenure was their inability to reach the NBA Finals, having gone to the Western Conference Finals just twice and falling to the Golden State Warriors on both occasions. However, the Rockets have a promising young core that could benefit from the addition of some experienced veterans.

While it’s unclear whether Harden will opt-out of his contract, he hinted at the possibility of doing so when he hired former Adidas executive Tom Payne as his representation in February.

The Rockets have been mentioned as a possible landing spot for Harden since late 2022, and Wojnarowski reported in December that Harden was “considering” a return to the franchise this summer. With the Rockets’ financial flexibility and the potential to join a young team with potential, it’s easy to see why a return to Houston could be attractive to the three-time scoring champion.

James Harden Ejected After Flagrant Foul Call: Joel Embiid steps up to win game 3

James Harden expressed his surprise and disbelief after being ejected from Game 3 against the Brooklyn Nets for a flagrant foul on Royce O’Neale. In an interview following the 76ers’ 102-97 victory over the Nets, Harden discussed the play, claiming that he didn’t think it was a foul on him.

“Somebody draped on me, natural reaction is just use your off-arm and get him off a little bit, and that was it. It wasn’t no wind up, elbow, none of that. I didn’t hit him in the private area, none of that. That can’t happen; that can’t happen,” Harden said.

The referees’ call was surprising, especially considering that it was not the first time a player had accidentally hit an opponent in the groin in the past two weeks. Josh Richardson was called for a flagrant foul 1 for accidentally hitting Josh Giddey in the groin while setting a screen during the play-in game between the OKC Thunder and New Orleans Pelicans. Additionally, Joel Embiid was called for a flagrant foul 1 in the first quarter of the game against the Nets after kicking Nic Claxton, but his kick looked worse than Harden’s elbow. 

The ejection could have an impact on the rest of the series, as the 76ers will have to find a way to replace Harden’s 23.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 9.8 assists per game. The Nets will likely attempt to take advantage of his absence in Game 4 and even the series.James Harden


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