Report: Rockets view Harden coming back to Houston as ‘a legitimate possibility’

Jan 10, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets reacts to a basket during the first quarter of a game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Toyota Center on January 10, 2021 in Houston, Texas. Mandatory Credit: Carmen Mandato/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Rockets view Harden coming back to Houston as ‘a legitimate possibility’

A return to Houston for 10-time all-star James Harden could be on the horizon.

According to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, the Houston Rockets see Harden’s potential return as “a legitimate possibility.” Harden is set to become a free agent this offseason after being traded from Brooklyn to Philadelphia last season in an exchange also including Ben Simmons.

Harden, 33, has seen a slight dip in production over the past several seasons. However, he is still considered one of the league’s most prolific scorers. This season, Harden is averaging 21.6 points per game to go along with a league-leading 10.7 assists and 6.2 rebounds. He is shooting 45.6% from the field and 39.7% from beyond the arc in 42 games this season.

Harden was drafted third overall by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2009 NBA Draft, the same draft as Blake Griffin (first overall), Steph Curry (seventh overall), and DeMar DeRozan (ninth overall). He spent three years with the Thunder, becoming the universally accepted best sixth-man in the league and even going to the NBA Finals with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

After failing to reach an extension in 2012 with the Thunder, Oklahoma City traded Harden to the Houston Rockets in exchange for veteran shooter Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, two first-round picks, and a second-round pick. Houston acquired center Cole Aldrich and forwards Daequan Cook and Lazar Hayward in the trade.

As soon as Harden set foot in Houston, he became a superstar averaging over 25 points per game for the next eight years, including winning three straight scoring titles. He won MVP in the 2017-18 season averaging over 30 points per game and almost nine assists per game. The following season, he would score a 36.1 point per game clip and then a 34.3 point per game average the very next year. In nine seasons with the Rockets, he averaged 29.6 points per game as one of the game’s premier offensive players.

In January of 2021, Harden was traded to the Brooklyn Nets as part of a three-team trade with the Nets and Cleveland Cavaliers. The Nets got Harden and a 2024 second-round pick in exchange for Caris LeVert, Rodions Kurucs, three first-round picks, and four first-round pick swaps. The Rockets also received Dante Exum and a 2022 first-round pick from Cleveland. This was also the trade that netted the Cavs center Jarrett Allen, Taurean Prince, and the rights to Aleksandar Vezenkov. This allowed Harden to once again team up with Kevin Durant, as well as Kyrie Irving.

Harden would spend the second half of 2021 and the first half of 2022 with the Nets, where he averaged 23.4 points per game, before being traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in February of 2022. The Sixers acquired Harden and Paul Millsap for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, and two first-round picks.

The Rockets are a young team with several promising young players, four of which were recently selected to play in the NBA Rising Stars Challenge. They are currently last in the Western Conference and hold the worst record in the NBA at 13-45.

A return to Houston would certainly shake things up in Houston, as it is known that he has a strong connection to the city. However, the fit would be unorthodox, given Jalen Green’s progress and position. With that said, “The Beard” being back in Houston would definitely send a jolt of energy throughout the arena.

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