James Harden can become a free agent again this offseason and his market is expected to extend beyond the Philadelphia 76ers to the Houston Rockets. While the Rockets have been a rebuild mode since trading Harden to the Brooklyn Nets in 2021, there appears to be serious mutual interest between the parties dating back to a report on Christmas Day from Adrian Wojnarowski.
"I also believe the Harden situation is one of the more under talked about things with what's going on in the season here," said Brian Windhorst on his podcast. "We are always guilty of looking ahead. And there has been very little discussion about Harden. Probably because Philly has played generally really well for the last two months.
"Christmas Day, Woj comes out with that story that Houston wants to go over Harden and it was like 'Whoa.'
"Not just that Houston wants to, but Houston believes it is a legitimate possibility and that's not coming out of thin air," said Tim MacMahon. "James Harden still spends a lot of time in Houston. Spends his summers in Houston. Works out at the Rockets' facility on a regular basis. It's a very real possibility. And Harden, by the way, never shot it down. He just said 'I don't know where that came from.'"
"It was kind of a non-denial," added Windhorst. "And that [storyline has] just gone way."
Harden took a one-plus-one deal with the Sixers as a free agent last offseason worth $68.6 million. Harden took a $15 million discount in order to help the Sixers add P.J. Tucker and Danuel House.
While Harden and the Rockets may have serious interest in reuniting, it could also be Harden attempting to increase his chances of signing a lucrative contract with the Sixers. Harden recently hired Troy Payne as his agent.
"It's also a leverage point," said Windhorst.