James Harden Apr 20, 2023; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden (1) reacts after a call during game three of the 2023 NBA playoffs against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA free agency period kicks off on Friday and there are a lot of eyes on James Harden and what he’s going to do.

The -time All-Star who led the league in assists this past season, is thought by many to re-sign with the Philadelphia 76ers. That move checks a lot of boxes foe Harden as he could max out his earning potential, remain with a playoff contender, and be able to play alongside reigning MVP Joel Embiid.

However, there have also long been reports that Harden would like to return to Houston and become a Rockets player once again.

According to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, that’s reportedly what the NBA superstar would prefer to do.

“From what I’m told (76ers’ head coach) Nick Nurse has spent some time in Houston desperately wanting Harden to return as a Sixer,” Smith said. “Harden, according to numerous reports, doesn’t want to be in Philadelphia, wants out of Philadelphia, and would like to go back to Houston where he starred for about nine seasons, winning a few scoring titles and a league MVP.”

On paper, it doesn’t make much sense to leave the contending Sixers for bottom-feeding Houston, who finished tied for the second-worst record in the Western Conference last year. But if Harden wants to be the star of the show, perhaps that’s what is pulling him there.

[Stephen A. Smith]

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to sean@thecomeback.com.