NBA rumors: James Harden to explore options outside Brooklyn in free agency

Harden remains invested in competing for the title in Brooklyn this season, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation. But Harden has recently informed several confidants—including former teammates and coaches—of his interest in exploring other opportunities outside of Brooklyn this summer, league sources told B/R.

More on James Harden Free Agency

Nets coach Steve Nash's fluid rotations have also disappointed Harden, sources told B/R. Nash has favored hot-hand closing lineups, rather than a fixed crunch-time unit.  His new city could also be an issue. According to multiple sources, Harden has not enjoyed living in Brooklyn, compared to his days as a central Houston magnate. Outside of the change in climate, the chasm between state taxes in New York versus Texas is quite obvious as well.
If Harden opts into his player option for next season, he becomes eligible for a four-year, $227.2 million extension, which in total would give him a five-year, $274.7 million contract. If Harden opts out and the Nets re-sign him with his Bird Rights, the max he could make is $270 million over five years. The Sixers would prefer Harden opt out, because it doesn’t require the Nets’ participation to bring The Beard farther down Interstate 95. But given that Harden’s next contract will likely be the final big deal of his career, doing so makes no sense for him. Should Harden opt out and sign with another team in free agency, the max he could get is a four-year, $200.1 million deal. In short, unless Harden wants to leave $74 million on the table, the logical way he would change teams, if he chooses to do so, is through a sign-and-trade.
According to sources, Harden and his camp have maintained a close relationship with Morey. In addition, Sixers co-owner Michael Rubin is also tight with Harden and his friends. Harden’s close friend and rapper Lil Baby was even on hand when Rubin, Meek Mill and the Sixers hosted 25 youths from the Philadelphia area before their Dec. 15 game against the Miami Heat. Together, the group provided a Wells Fargo Center experience through the REFORM Alliance for young people who have been adversely affected by criminal justice.
Complicated is a polite description for such a deal, since the Sixers would be hard-capped by taking Harden in via sign-and-trade and would thus have to shed more salary than just Simmons' contract according to the league's luxury-tax rules to make it work financially. Yet it must be noted that there is enough noise circulating leaguewide about Harden's reported openness to relocation this summer — after he turned down a lucrative extension from the Nets in October — to give Morey the encouragement he needs to wait.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Brooklyn is confident that James Harden wants to be there long-term. And the fact that Kevin Durant signed his extension in the offseason, that's a pretty good indicator that he knows James Harden is confident in his future in Brooklyn.
Harden believes his window to chase championships in Houston has ended, and constructing a super team with the Nets represents his best pathway to a title, sources said. Harden can become a free agent in 2022 if he opts out of the final year of his contract -- and sources say that Brooklyn represents a two-year play to win a title before deciding on the next steps in his career.
While planning their summer roster moves, the Rockets "plan" to take a step that will allow them to tell potential free agents that star guard James Harden will not be going anywhere. For the second consecutive season, the Rockets intend to offer Harden a contract extension long before he could hit free agency, a person will knowledge of the team's plans said Tuesday. The individual spoke on the condition of anonymity because the team's intentions have not been made public.
For now, it is less likely that Harden might consider the extension this summer than Westbrook, league sources told The Vertical. Harden might prefer to wait until closer to his free agency and continue to evaluate the Rockets’ ability to develop into a championship contender, sources told The Vertical. Harden has a massive adidas shoe deal that guarantees him great earning power beyond his NBA contract. What’s more, the Rockets are under no obligation to offer him the extension this summer.
This rumor is part of a storyline: 61 more rumors
More HoopsHype Rumors
July 1, 2022 | 2:47 am EDT Update

Bulls among the teams calling about Kevin Durant

When the two-time NBA Finals MVP made it known he wanted to be traded out of Brooklyn, expected business quickly fell by the wayside as teams tried to reposition themselves to at least make an offer. According to a source, the Bulls were a part of those phone calls, despite Durant reportedly having the Heat and Suns among his desired destinations — and despite the reality that the Bulls don’t have the type of high-profile player or quality of draft picks the Nets were looking for in a trade package.
Phoenix has the kinds of players who might make this a win-win for all involved — namely, Suns small forward Mikal Bridges and restricted free agent center DeAndre Ayton. In the days before Irving’s choice to opt-in, sources close to Ayton had raised this possibility of an Ayton-Bridges deal being very much on their radar. At that time, however, it was unclear whether Durant was going to ask out.
Beck: I asked a well-connected NBA source which teams, other than the increasingly desperate Lakers, would be willing to acquire Irving. His answer: “None.” I think I agree. The league has seen Irving wreak a lot of havoc over the last five years, from Cleveland to Boston to Brooklyn. It’s left an impression. But the Lakers badly need another scorer/playmaker next to LeBron and AD, and Irving is an infinitely better fit than Russell Westbrook.