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Best landing spots for James Harden in 2023 free agency

Here’s a look at the best fits for Harden in free agency.

James Harden #1 of the Philadelphia 76ers & Head Coach Doc Rivers of the Philadelphia 76ers looks on during the game on May 14, 2023 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2023 NBAE Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

The Philadelphia 76ers and James Harden have to determine whether or not they will continue working towards a championship, or go their separate ways in the coming weeks.

Harden’s first full campaign as a Sixer in 2023 was a successful one, at least from a numbers standpoint. He averaged 21.0 points, 6.1 rebounds and 10.7 assists in 58 regular-season appearances. Coming off back-to-back eliminations in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, it could be time for the former MVP to explore other options.

Best landing spots for James Harden

Houston Rockets

A return to Houston where Harden played most of his best basketball would make a lot of sense. The Rockets have the cap space to sign a veteran leader, and it’s been clear that they’ve been closely monitoring the situation between Harden and the 76ers. It likely will come down to the three-time scoring champ’s desire to receive a big payday, or play for a title contender. Philly doesn’t prefer to sign Harden to a max contract, but rather a shorter-term deal. So essentially, the Rockets could swoop in and bring the star back if he’s more enthused by a fresh start and more money.

Chicago Bulls

Though not a very likely scenario, the Bulls have expressed interest in pursuing Harden when moratorium begins on June 30. The guard/wing setup of DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Harden would be tough to slow down. This would give the Bulls a de facto ball-handler to run pick-and-rolls with Nikola Vucevic assuming the big man is re-signed. The defense won’t be good but Chicago’s offense could be enough to make noise in the playoffs.