James Harden of the 76ers could sign with Rockets

NBA Analytics Network

The Houston Rockets are playing at the level many people thought they would this NBA season. They currently rank last in the Western Conference with a 9-21 record, which isn’t too shocking when you consider that Eric Gordon is the only player in their rotation with more than three years of NBA experience.

This season is once again all about development for the Rockets, as they want to see progress from their young core. Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr., Alperen Sengun and Jabari Smith Jr. form what the franchise hopes will be their foundation for years to come. All have shown signs so far this season and should only get better as they gain more experience.

Ultimately, the Rockets will be in the market for established veterans to take their rebuilding to the next level. Usually being competitive during the regular season is a required step, but could Houston skip that and become a free agency brass as early as 2023?

During a recent episode of “Howdy Partners,” a podcast hosted by ESPN’s Tim MacMahon with guest Kirk Goldberry, also from ESPN, they discussed the future of the teams currently rebuilding in the Western Conference.

The Rockets are one of those teams, and unlike the other rebuilding franchises, they are a destination for free agents. Is there any chance James Harden will return to them as a free agent? MacMahon talked about it in the podcast:

“They have potentially about $60 million in cap space this summer. This is not Oklahoma City, Salt Lake City or San Antonio. This is Houston, a potentially attractive market for free agents.

“It will be fascinating to see how free agency plays out. You know how competition works. There’s already been a lot of gossip and dots connected: “Hey, if it doesn’t work out in Philly, keep an eye on James Harden when he goes back to Houston.”

I think “keep an eye on that” is definitely justified. First, let’s see how it plays out in Philadelphia, where they’re starting to play really good basketball. Does that also make sense from a Rockets perspective?

LATEST NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: James Harden, Houston Rockets & Philadelphia 76ers Updates

When a team has that much cap space, it’s free-for-all players, whether it’s signing veterans or absorbing contracts other teams don’t want into salary dumps, along with draft compensation. However, the bigger deal to be struck is that Harden is a long way from the team’s current timeline.

It’s hard to imagine Harden, wanting to compete for titles, going back to the Rockets. Even with him on the roster, Houston would be several steps away from actually competing in the Western Conference.

LATEST NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: James Harden, Houston Rockets & Philadelphia 76ers Updates

While people say to keep an eye out for Harden’s return to Houston, it’s not a move that makes much sense for either side.

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