Rumors have swirled recently that Philadelphia 76ers superstar James Harden has plans to leave in free agency and head back to his former team, the Houston Rockets. That’s surprising considering he’s currently playing on a very good team with one of the best players in the NBA in Joel Embiid, while the Rockets are, well, terrible.
Harden potentially going back to the team where he became a star makes sense on some level, but he also demanded a trade from Houston too. The Rockets have been among the worst teams in the NBA since then, including this season, where they are on pace to win just 18 games. That begs the question of why he would want to go back. We may now have an answer.
Why James Harden may want to return to the Houston Rockets.
According to Sam Amick and Kelly Iko, Harden likes the young players on the Rockets’ roster, particularly Jalen Green. Green has the best chance of any player on their current roster to break out and become a superstar, but that’s still theoretical at this point. If he and Harden are indeed close, that makes a little more sense, and perhaps Harden believes that he can help Green become an elite player and his co-star in Houston. There’s also the possibility that Harden wants to end his career in Houston.
Whether Green becomes that player playing alongside Harden is obviously unknown. However, the Rockets do have several other promising young players, such as Jabari Smith and Alperin Sengun, and they can add to that core in this year’s NBA draft. The Rockets currently have the worst record in the NBA and will share the best lottery odds, which means that they have as good a chance as any to land the first overall pick in the draft. If that is the case, they could take Victor Wembanyama.
Even if they fall short, they could still end up with Scoot Henderson. Either player would be a huge get for Houston. Though the addition of Wembanyama could be the deciding factor in Harden’s decision to return to the Rockets, especially if the 76ers fail to reach the Eastern Conference Finals.
Overall, it seems that the odds of Harden returning to Houston appear to be growing. This is based on several reports from reputable sources. From a basketball perspective, Philadelphia seems to be a far better situation for Harden. Even so, we at least have a better idea of his thought process ahead of the summer.