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Report: James Harden ‘torn’ on whether to stay in Philly or return to Houston

Stuck in the middle with you, Uno.

2023 NBA Playoffs- Philadelphia 76ers v Boston Celtics Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

The carousel of conversation surrounding James Harden’s free agency continues to turn. The 10-time NBA All-Star plans to become an unrestricted free agent this summer by declining his $35.6 million player option with the Philadelphia 76ers for the 2023-24 season, according to Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes.

Since then, the pendulum of rumors and whispers has swung violently from contemplating Harden remaining in Philadelphia, to his possible return to the Houston Rockets, and back again.

The latest, from The Athletic’s Shams Charania on an appearance on The Ryen Russillo Podcast, is that Harden is actually somewhere in the middle right now.

Charania: “I really think that he’s torn with the prospect of staying in Philadelphia or moving on to Houston potentially and returning back to his home. That’s where his roots are, his family is there, of course. They’ve got upwards of [$60 million in cap space], they could make even more money available—close to $70 million in cap space—so they’re going to have a ton of money. And this is a team, in Houston, I do believe they’re going to be aggressive in the marketplace ... they’re going to be a team looking to beef up that roster. ”

Charania: “My sense right now is that James Harden is someone that’s torn.”

Yes, that’s two separate times he referred to Harden as “torn”.

While Harden’s decision remains up the air, the Sixers made a massive organizational move on their own on May 29, filling their head coach vacancy by hiring former Toronto Raptors’ coach Nick Nurse. Charania expects the changes Nurse plans to bring to the Philadelphia squad to be a key factor in progressing conversations between Harden and the team.

Charania: “How’s that team going to be different with Nick Nurse, schematically, game-plan wise, how does he adjust. Those are all conversations I think Nick Nurse and James Harden and Daryl Morey are gonna, I assume, have over the coming weeks.”

Charania went on to say the situation between Harden, the Sixers and the Rockets has been “open-ended” for awhile now, and that his sense is that Harden is “torn” (for a third time) with a lot to consider.

Charania: “I think whichever way it goes, it’s going to be relatively close. That’s why, as we get closer to June 30/July 1, those conversations he’s going to have as the incumbent free agent with Nick Nurse and Daryl Morey, what their vision is for him, what their vision is for that team . . . versus comparing it to whatever Houston comes with on June 30/July 1, those are all very important factors.”

To keep up to date with all the latest on Harden’s free agency, follow along with our rumor tracker.

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