Sixers rumors: Would James Harden return to Houston?

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Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden looks to drive past New York Knicks guard Quentin Grimes during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

The Philadelphia 76ers are firing on all cylinders. They are the winners of eight straight, Tyrese Maxey is soon to return, and the Sixers won on Christmas Day against the New York Knicks. Joel Embiid and James Harden are playing off each other beautifully, and role players like Niang and Melton are playing incredible basketball. Everything seems so bright for the Sixers.

However, the team can’t seem to have success without constant rumors. The target of the rumors this time is none other than Sixers star point guard James Harden. Adrian Wojnarowski stated on NBA Countdown that Harden is considering a return to Houston in free agency this upcoming offseason.

Why would he return to the Rockets?

James Harden became the player we all fell in love with in Houston. He was the single greatest scorer in the league during his time in Houston. After being traded away from the Oklahoma City Thunder, Harden evolved in Houston. He spent his prime in Houston. He gave everything to that team, and the team and the city loved him for it. Harden won scoring titles, an MVP, and many playoff games there; he holds career averages of 29.6 points and 7.7 assists as a Houston Rocket. He played in 706 career games across nine years. This is a relationship that Harden will always have with Houston, that he will probably never have anywhere else.

Fast forward to the off-season, and the Houston Rockets look like they’ll have a young core for the future built around Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr., and Jabari Smith Jr. Add in another top pick this year, which could be the first pick in the draft, and the Rockets could find themselves as risers in a stacked Western Conference. If the Rockets do end up with the first overall pick and select Victor Wembanyama, it’s easy to see why the Rockets would be a favorable destination. That being said, it wouldn’t make sense for Harden to leave Philadelphia.

Would he leave the Sixers?

James Harden isn’t going to leave Philadelphia. Let’s just get this out of the way. He loves Philadelphia, he loves Daryl Morey, the Sixers’ current President of Basketball Operation, and he loves that he is competing for a championship here in Philly with his MVP-level co-star Joel Embiid.

Harden, no matter what happens this offseason, is in a better situation here in Philly than he does in Houston. The man literally declined a massive player option and a long-term contract to give the Sixers flexibility to add players in free agency. Other loyal star players don’t even do that. Harden is committed to Philadelphia. As for the rumors, at the most, Harden’s trying to gain leverage to get a max contract this season. At the least, the report just isn’t true, and Harden is fully committed to being in Philadelphia for the rest of his career.