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May 15, 2023

NBA rumors: James Harden 'very serious' about returning to Rockets

Sixers guard James Harden can opt out of his contract this summer. Reports continue to pop up about his potential return to the Houston Rockets.

After a colossal playoff flameout that will live in infamy in Philadelphia, rumors are swirling about James Harden's future with the Sixers. 

There's been buzz for the last several months about Harden returning to the Houston Rockets this summer, as he's able to opt out of his 2023-24 player option worth $35.6 million. 

The latest such report comes from ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski on the network's "Get Up" program. Here's what Wojnarowski had to say about the potential of Harden rejoining the Rockets (hat tip to Bleacher Report for the transcription):

And listen, it may ultimately be a leverage play for James Harden. Houston may be his way to get him the kind of guaranteed money, long-term money he wants from Philly. But I wouldn't underestimate it as just a leverage play. I think he's very serious about returning. And Philadelphia now, they have strong relationships in that organization from Daryl Morey, starting with him in their front office. It's going to be a really interesting couple of months."

The video of Wojnarowski's report is available here on ESPN's website.

The optics of a report like this have to crush Sixers fans. Perhaps they're already ready to wipe their hands clean of the Harden experience after the team's Game 7 clunker against the Celtics in Boston, but whether the Sixers retain Harden this summer will dictate the state of this franchise going forward for the next half-decade. 

Will they let Harden walk and do a quick retool? Will they do the once-unthinkable and move away from Joel Embiid and attempt another Process-level teardown? Who knows?

I can't speak as to what's to come for the Sixers, but if the last decade has taught me anything watching and covering this organization, there will be a ton of noise and a ton of drama. 

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