Paul George’s tough stance on James Harden going to the Rockets was not wrong

Rumors linking James Harden with the Houston Rockets have been circulating for most of this season. Harden famously took a pay cut last summer to return to the Philadelphia 76ers in hopes of winning a championship, but there have been whispers that he would like to return to his old home of Houston as a free agent should Philly fall short. The Sixers’ season finally came to an end when they lost Game 7 of their second-round series against the Boston Celtics, and now all eyes are on Harden as he considers his decision in free agency.

The Rockets have been one of the worst teams in the NBA since trading Harden. Houston has assembled a solid pool of young talent, led by shooting guard Jalen Green, great Alperen Sengun and forward Jabari Smith Jr. and the Eason Dance. What the Rockets lack is a point guard, and that’s where Harden can come in. Of course, the Rockets also have the No. 1 overall pick. 4 in the 2023 NBA Draft, and 6’7 point guard Amen Thompson could be a pick.

Does it make sense for Houston to add Harden to such a young team? Paul George didn’t think so. The veteran star had Jalen Green on his podcast this week to discuss the Harden rumours, and PG said he didn’t think Harden going to the Rockets was a good fit for everyone involved:

Here is George’s comment, transcribed:

“Personally, I wouldn’t (go after Harden),” George said with Green as his guest. “At this point, it is your team. You are the king of Houston. They make decisions about who the future is. When you pick the guy with the fourth choice, he’s our guy. They are fully committed to who the future is. Like you have to go through this. You have to go through being double team, triple team, being on target all the time. You have to go through it.

“You bringing in someone like James who is a ball dominant player like that is going to stunt your growth a bit. You know what I mean? Regardless of how it may lift you to another level as he teaches you and you learn from him, I feel like you, you’ve gone through the fire. So, let you continue to study.”

What George said made a lot of sense. Personally, Harden’s return to Houston would feel more suitable if the Rockets win the lottery and the rights to 7’5 French super prospect Victor Wembanyama. We now know Wembanyama will begin his career with the San Antonio Spurs. Whoever the Rockets pick at No. 4 will not be able to provide the immediate assistance that the French sensation did.

Harden and the rest of the Rockets roster are not on the same timeline. Harden’s game has slipped from when he was competing for MVP every year, but he is still a caliber All-Star proving he can sometimes step it up in the big moments like he did with his massive showings in Game 1 and Game 4. against the Celtics in the playoffs. . Don’t ask about how he played the rest of the series.

Harden returning to the Rockets would be a sign he has basically given up on trying to win a title, and now just wants to make as much money as possible after taking a pay cut to play in Philly last year. Cashing in makes sense for Harden on the threshold of his 34th birthday, but it makes less sense for Houston. The team still won’t win many games after giving Harden the max deal, and is likely to create a strange locker room dynamic between the youngsters and the former superstar.

Maybe Harden was just using the threat of going to Houston as a way of using the Sixers to give him the biggest possible deal? Either way, get ready for another explosive NBA offseason.

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