NBA Rumors: James Harden expected to sign with Houston Rockets, leave 76ers

Philadelphia 76ers James Harden (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)
Philadelphia 76ers James Harden (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports) /

NBA Rumors: James Harden is expected to rejoin the Houston Rockets when he hits free agency this offseason. 

Heading into the offseason, one of the bigger questions that the Philadelphia 76ers will be tasked with answering revolves around James Harden and his future. Over the last few months, there have been whispers that tie him to the Houston Rockets but the hope is that he will still re-sign with the Sixers.

However, it seems with every passing day, that hope of re-signing Harden is slowly dwindling for the Sixers. And the most recent news regarding his future has thrown a huge curveball for the Sixers heading into the offseason.

According to a report from The Philadelphia Inquirer, the expectation heading into the offseason is that Harden will leave the Sixers to sign with the Rockets. After a disappointing loss in the Eastern Conference semifinals in which they blew a 3-2 series lead to the Boston Celtics, this has to be an absolute gut-punch for the franchise.

Could James Harden have a change of heart?

Of course, a lot can change between now and the start of free agency. But with how this story has been trending recently, this most recent report is not exactly surprising. Harden is reportedly heading into free agency with the hope of signing a long-term contract, perhaps the final one of his career.

Considering he took a bit of a pay cut to remain with the Sixers last season, perhaps this was the plan the entire time – to try to win a ring with Joel Embiid and the Sixers this season, and if it doesn’t work out, go and get the big-money deal that he wants to end his career with.

If it is, you can’t really blame Harden. He did the championship ring song-and-dance that most fans want star players to do. He chased and pursued a ring. It didn’t work with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn and didn’t either in Philadelphia with Embiid.

I suppose you can blame him for not giving it another try, but it seems like his heart is somewhere else. If this report is true and he wants to be in Houston, and the Rockets are willing to give him whatever he’s going to be asking for in free agency, all power to him.

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But Harden aside, this leaves the Sixers in a very difficult position heading into the offseason. There’s no question about that. And it will only bring about more questions about the franchise’s future.