June 07, 2023
A major free agency decision looms for James Harden, one that stands to heavily alter what the Sixers will look like going forward, but it seems he isn't anywhere close to making a call just yet.
Long expected to choose between either a return to Houston or another attempt to run it back with Joel Embiid in Philly, with big money coming to him regardless, Harden has been mulling over his NBA future but is apparently "torn" over where he really wants to go next.
At least that's Shams Charania's read of the current situation.
"My sense right now is this is someone that is torn. I think whichever way it goes, it's going to be relatively close. That's why as we get closer to July 1, June 30th, those conversations that he's going to have, as he becomes a free agent, with Nick Nurse and with Daryl Morey, what their vision is for him, what their vision is for that team, what that offer ultimately is going to be versus comparing it to whatever Houston comes with on June 30th or July 1, those are all very important factors. This is a guy that you would assume would sit down with both teams. Philadelphia is going to have a window earlier, potentially going in and scheduling meetings. This is a situation now where we're going to see which way it lands." [The Ringer/RealGM]
Of course, the sense around the Sixers and their fans on the topic of whether Harden should return is torn as well.
Another devastating second-round playoff exit has soured most on the current makeup of the team, and Harden's bad performances against Boston in Games 2, 3, 6, and 7 contributed heavily to that. He'll also be 34 by the time next season starts.
But on the other hand, he did outright steal Games 1 and 4 of that Celtics series to have the Sixers in a position to win it in the first place, and if Harden does leave, his level of production during the regular season isn't so easily replaced.
The hiring of Nick Nurse as the Sixers' new head coach will no doubt play a factor in what Harden decides to do next and so will whatever Nurse's vision of him staying put in Philly looks like.
"I think that winning is always the sell," Nurse said during his introduction last week. "Can we be good enough to win it all? That's got to be a goal of his, and if it is, then he should stay here and play for us, because I think there's a possibility of that."
And if not, the money will be there in Houston.
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