James Harden Rumor Mill: Current talks, connections to Philadelphia, and his current issues in Brooklyn
There has been a flurry of various reports, rumors, and assumptions about James Harden’s future in Brooklyn, and specifically about the possibility of him migrating to Philadelphia in this offseason.
The conversations around Harden potentially leaving Brooklyn in free agency started about two weeks ago, but in the last few days it has started to gain some traction. It seems like the league is starting to connect the dots between Harden and Philadelphia. Typically, when there’s smoke there’s fire.
Here’s a roundup of where we stand today.
In an article on Bleacher Report, Jake Fischer reported that James Harden would welcome new scenery next season. The general perception of the situation seems to be the Harden is committed to trying to win a championship with the Nets this season, but is looking forward to testing free agency.
Harden has never been an unrestricted free agent in his career, and that appears to be an appealing liberty for the former MVP.
Kendrick Perkins appeared on the “Up in Smoke” podcast with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson and the episode aired this morning. During the episode, Perkins essentially confirmed that Harden wants to play in Philadelphia with Joel Embiid. He notes that this information isn’t coming directly from James Harden, but that his camp is telling those close in Philadelphia that the intention is to be there next season.
His “Perk Bomb” was finalized by saying that Harden is telling Brooklyn’s management otherwise. Some people might hear this and laugh it off because it’s Kendrick Perkins, but he was completely right about Ben Simmons at the beginning of the season, so there is clearly some sort of validity to his statement.
On a separate podcast from “The Athletic NBA Show”, Howard Beck also had some significant information. Beck reported that the noise about Harden isn’t even coming from Philadelphia, but from other teams around the league.
The information that has been passed down to him has been from franchises unrelated to Brooklyn or Philadelphia, and they add that this is the most reliable form of information.
Between the cultivation of recent rumors, and Daryl Morey’s commitment to pushing through this season to make the right move in the offseason, things add up.
There has been murmurs all week about Harden’s future, and with his connections to Philadelphia all these reports appear more rational than when they first started to arise.
Connections to Philadelphia
This is where it gets interesting. The obvious connection is Harden’s relationship with Daryl Morey, but it goes much further than that within the Sixers organization.
To start with Morey, it was well documented that his relationship with Harden was more than basketball. There were many reports about how much Harden appreciated having ay in the front office moves and that he felt very valued by Morey and the front office. It was also no secret that Morey wanted to go get Harden from Houston last season but was unable to due to unforeseen circumstances.
Former Rockets CEO Tad Brown is someone who James Harden grew very close with during his time in Houston, and even called Brown a father figure to him. After resigning from his CEO position with the Rockets, Brown was hired by Harris and Blitzer Sports and Entertainment to be the CEO of the 76ers in July of 2021.
James Harden also has been a friend to Sixers partner Michael Rubin, introduced to each other by Lil Baby. Keith Pompey reported that Rubin’s “tight” friendship with the rapper could have led to Harden’s interest in playing in Philadelphia.
Meek Mill is also a well-known supporter of the 76ers and friend of Rubin, and he has been close with James Harden dating back to the rappers stint in jail when Harden reportedly called him all the time to check up on him.
These connections can seem frivolous, but they do exist and that is the important part. It can feel unlikely that these reports would start coming out in the middle of a season and be true, but the sides are heavily intertwined which makes it seem possible.
Harden’s Gripes with Brooklyn
Outside of the links between Harden and Philly, there’s trouble in paradise for the Nets. Part of Jake Fischer’s report was that Harden doesn’t enjoy living in Brooklyn compared to Houston. More importantly, there appears to be growing frustrations with Kyrie Irving’s part time participation with Brooklyn along with Steve Nash’s rotations.
Irving had originally been permanently away from the team due to his vaccination status, which was a decision made by the team, but they recently allowed him to com back and play in cities which do not mandate vaccines. In this report, Harden has been displeased with Irving’s lack of commitment and isn’t happy that he can come and go without consequence.
Steve Nash was asked about the rumors and his response was fairly telling, “I am not sure of the validity of those rumors”, and he also noted that he has a good relationship with Harden.
Nash has been going with what he calls “hot hand” closing lineups rather than fixed rotations at the end of the game which has also reportedly rubbed Harden the wrong way.
What Does It Mean?
There is certainly something there. At first it seemed too good to be true for Sixer fans, but with all the swirling reports there is reason to believe.
Now, this is still something that is subject to change. The only way this happens is if Harden does not sign his extension, and then it’s a matter of clearing cap space in order to make a deal possible.
Who knows…? Maybe this was Daryl Morey’s plan all along.
Mandatory Credit: AP Photo/Adam Hunger