The Houston Rockets have a Plan B in place if James Harden opts to stay with the Philadelphia 76ers this summer.
Up to this point, Houston has made it clear that bringing Harden back to the team is their top priority.
Harden, similarly, has expressed a desire to return home to the franchise he experienced the vast majority of his NBA success with.
That said – a reunion isn’t set in stone. Harden has waffled a bit on if he truly wants to leave Philly, especially after his high-profile role in getting Doc Rivers fired.
If winning a championship is truly important to Harden, and it is the only major NBA accomplishment to elude the former league MVP at this point, obviously the Sixers offer a better opportunity than the Rockets do.
According to NBA insider Marc Stein, if Houston doesn’t get Harden, the front office may turn its attention to a different superstar.
“I have also heard that the Rockets, in the event that they are unable to lure Harden away from Philadelphia and back to Houston, plan to weigh a run at Dallas’ Kyrie Irving,” Stein wrote.
“The [Dallas] Mavericks remain the league’s only known team with definitive interest in signing the mercurial Irving next month, but league sources say that the Rockets have been increasingly cited as a team that could (stress: could) join the bidding if Harden elects to stay with the 76ers,” Stein continued.
Irving is eligible to get a five-year, $272.9 million deal from the Mavericks this summer. Should he leave elsewhere, the maximum he could command is four years and $198.5 million.
Irving has made it no secret where he would prefer to play next season, but when you have a character like him, anything is possible.
The mystery courtside Heat fan has been identified. https://t.co/2Z64PgpsPS
— Game 7 (@game7__) June 12, 2023
He could return to the Mavericks. He could go to the Los Angeles Lakers. He could land with the Rockets.
Irving is the kind of personality where no scenario is unrealistic. Where will he ultimately be playing come the beginning of the 2023-24 NBA season? Time will tell.