So there is a looming decision for James Harden, he can either opt-in or opt-out into the last year of the 2-year extension he originally signed with the Philadelphia 76ers prior to this season; and it’s been floated around he could possibly go join Jalen Green and Alperen Sengun in Houston in what would be a reunion with the Houston Rockets, the franchise where James Harden had the best years of his professional career in the NBA but would it be a wise decision for James to consider the Houston Rockets in free-agency? I think to myself why would Rockets GM Rafael Stone want so sign a soon to be 34-year old James Harden who isn’t the elite scorer he once was. I mean literally I watch a guy like Luka Doncic who the NBA world is in awe of and I’d tell them did you forget just how elite James Harden was on the Houston Rockets? I watch James Harden now and it’s sort of like LeBron James, they’re both just not as fast and quick with the ball as they once were and that extra pop is just no longer there which made them look NBA 2k created players with every slider on 100. In all I could envision how Stephen Silas would use James Harden, more than likely he starts him at the point-guard position where he could continue to be the pass-first guard he’s been playing like all season for the Philadelphia 76ers; but would that translate into the Houston Rockets contending next season? Maybe.
The Houston Rockets have been rather awful this season, I get that they are a young roster and we are finally starting to see what sort of identity they could have going forward into the future with rising young big Alperen Sengun settling into his new role as a permanent starter in Stephen Silas’s rotation; and Jalen Green showing he’ll be more than capable of at least being one of the top 10 scorers in the game down the line with his occasional 40 point demolitions where he’s hit close to 10 3’s in each of those games separately but should we be sure 100 percent about Alperen Sengun just yet? For James Harden to consider a reunion with the Houston Rockets a possible shot at a title should be in the cards otherwise why bother coming back? I don’t believe the Rockets fan base would want him back just to recapture and relive all the step-back 3’s James Harden hit in the Toyota Center, by the way he did bail on the Rockets after they got desperate and tried to sell him on a Kentucky reunion with John Wall and Demarcus Cousins in Houston so the only reason I see Harden putting pen on paper with the Rockets is if he is sold on Jalen Green and Alperen Sengun turning into all-stars down the line, which is quite possible but not guaranteed.
James Harden has done it all, he has won a league MVP,won scoring titles,started in all-star games, he’s even played in a NBA Finals although he was a 6th man at the time on the Oklahoma City Thunder but watching him at the time you couldn’t tell who was the second option behind Kevin Durant since Russell Westbrook and James Harden were both rising superstars in their own rights. James Harden took a pay-cut in his last extension in order for Daryl Morey to get him some extra 3-point shooting and additional depth on the bench and it’s payed off. The Sixers have been able to win ball games without their two biggest stars Harden and Embiid this season which will bode well for them going into the playoffs were depth is crucial, just ask the Celtics how much lack of depth affected them against the Warriors in last year’s Finals. James Harden is older, I think he is certainly looking to cash out on what could be his last big pay-day but I also think he doesn’t want to go out like John Stockton,Reggie Miller,Charles Barkley,Allen Iverson,and Karl Malone 5 former hall-of-famers who no one remembers since they never captured a championship through their respective careers in the NBA.
Scoping the NBA and how much top end talent the league has at the moment, Alperen Sengun would have to at the very least become one of the top 5 bigs in the game for Harden to capture a championship in Houston. I say Alperen Sengun because Jalen Green doesn’t seem like he’ll ever become an elite defender or play-maker, I mean the kid could just blow me away and make me eat my own words but what would separate him from a Devin Booker let’s say who is the best shooting guard in the NBA at this very moment? At best he becomes just that but a 34-35 year old James Harden and Jalen Green won’t be scaring anyone in the Western Conference let alone the entire NBA. Alperen Sengun? Love his array of passes and unselfish nature but his shot is broken at the moment, he’s screening and rolling to the rim a good percentage of the time or pinpointing passes from the top of the key and low-post but until he can get opposing defenses to respect him as a shooter he’ll remain a super role player instead of future star in the NBA.
The Houston Rockets are a team with many question marks,what should we make of 3rd overall pick Jabari Smith Jr? He’s had one of the more forgettable rookie campaigns this season, he’s shown glimpses of what he could become down the line which seems like an athletic stretch 4 who can rebound and maybe become a 3rd option at best on a contending roster; but his name has been floated around in trade rumors as the Rockets look to bring in overseas sensation Victor Wembanyama which shows they aren’t completely sold on Jabari being one of their main building blocks. So to sum up James Harden terminating his contract to sign with the Houston Rockets would be an albatross of a decision, he’s better off considering a team like Los Angeles Clippers where he could get paid a ransom,play close to home,and compete for that elusive title with Kawhi Leonard. Or he could call it a career in Philly and die trying to win one or maybe 2 titles with Joel Embiid, we’ll find out soon enough.