It's well-known that the Houston Rockets have their sights set on a potential reunion with James Harden. The reports have been rampant and the Rockets are armed with $61 million in cap space this offseason, and Harden is expected to opt out of his two-year deal this summer, in hopes of landing a max contract.
The Rockets have a need for a lead distributor and Harden is a franchise legend. But could the Rockets' lottery outcome impede a reunion with the 2017-18 MVP?
The question is relevant because long-time NBA insider Marc Stein raised the question of whether the Rockets would pursue Harden if they land the first pick, which would presumably be Victor Wembanyama.
"Another variable to keep track of here, certainly, is what happens on May 16, when the Rockets learn how they fare in the Victor Wembanyama Sweepstakes. Would the Rockets still seek a Harden reunion if they win the right to draft Wemby No. 1 overall?"
Could Victor Wembanyama halt a James Harden-Rockets' reunion?
The question is perplexing, as there isn't a sensical reason why the Rockets wouldn't want both Wembanyama and Harden. And Stein didn't mention whether he had heard that the Rockets didn't want both Harden and Wembanyama.
But it's known that Harden can play with a big man. Hell, he's doing with Joel Embiid right now.
And Harden did it before with Dwight Howard (although that didn't quite work out the way anyone would've hoped). And why wouldn't a pass-first point guard be able to play alongside a 7-foot generational talent?
Maybe Stein could be alluding to the Rockets wanting to roll out the red carpet for Wemby, which the fan chatter regarding a Harden reunion could cause that to supercede the magnitude of the Rockets landing arguably the best prospect since LeBron James.
But Harden seems to be past that and willing to take a backseat on that front. At least that's what we've seen in Philly, with him taking a backseat to Embiid. And we've definitely seen it in Brooklyn, when he willingly agreed to be the third wheel, behind Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
Unless part of Harden's reasoning for a return to Houston is to resort back to the star treatment he received off the court, which I don't believe is driving his desire to come to Houston, as I believe it's more about getting a full max contract.
Granted, the Rockets don't even know where they're drafting yet, as the NBA's draft lottery is next Friday, May 16th, so all of this chatter could be for naught if they don't land the top pick anyway. And if they land the second pick and are taking Scoot Henderson, a Harden return would seem even more unlikely, as they both play the same position.
It'll be an interesting situation to follow, but let's be honest: the Rockets wouldn't be opposed to landing both Victor Wembanyama and James Harden. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.