The Philadelphia 76ers entered the 2023 offseason with plenty of uncertainty regarding their future, more specifically with James Harden. While there has been plenty of speculation that Harden may leave the Sixers for the Houston Rockets, more and more reports have suggested that Harden may not leave after all.
NBA Insider Marc Stein only added more fuel to that fire when he reported on his Substack on June 25 that Harden returning to the Sixers had gained more traction while explaining why.
“The idea that James Harden will re-sign with Philadelphia in free agency rather than return to Houston for a second stint with the Rockets has gained momentum over the past week or two.
“Among the whispered reasons for the change in forecast: Word is Harden came away from his introductory meeting with new Sixers coach Nick Nurse intrigued by Nurse’s vision,” Stein wrote.
Nurse has both an NBA title and an NBA Coach of the Year award to his name. Former Sixers head coach Doc Rivers did too, but the difference is Nurse’s accolades are much more recent. His title came in 2019, while Doc’s came in 2008. Nurse won the Coach of the Year award the year after winning a title, and Rivers won the same award in 2000.
Sixers ‘Determined’ to Bring Back James Harden
On the June 23 episode of Sportscenter, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski gave the full details on the Sixers’ pursuit of Harden.
“They’re determined to keep James Harden, but it’ll be a negotiation,” Wojnarowski said. “It’s probably not going to be just the traditional full max long-term deal that he’s been able to command throughout his career.”
Wojnarowski also mentioned how the addition of Nick Nurse could impact how Harden approaches his next free agency.
“A lot can happen, and I’m sure will happen before June 30, but certainly, there’s a pathway back to a contender with the Sixers, perhaps financially for James Harden that could make a lot of sense, and certainly, a team with Nick Nurse, as their new head coach, you know, certainly provides a backdrop for him to continue with a contender.”
James Harden Re-Signing May Lead to Tobias Harris Trade
Harden re-signing isn’t the only plotline going on this offseason. They may also look at trading Tobias Harris. Matt Moore of Action Network revealed that their futures may be connected to one another while adding who might get him.
“The way for the Sixers to make room to re-sign James Harden to whatever deal he’s amenable to is to trade Harris.
“The Kings have long been thought to be the most likely landing spot for Harris, not only because of the pre-existing relationship between Sixers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey and Kings GM Monte McNair but also with the Kings looking for a small forward alternative to Harrison Barnes.”
Moore proposed a hypothetical deal between the two sides if Harden stays among other dominos.
“IF Harden decides to stay in Philly and IF the Kings don’t manage a trade for OG Anunoby (which again looks unlikely), then the Kings and Sixers could work out a deal for Harris. It’s not known what either side wants to include in such a deal (at least by yours truly).”