How Doc Rivers' firing could halt a Rockets reunion with James Harden

Sacramento Kings v Philadelphia 76ers
Sacramento Kings v Philadelphia 76ers / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

It's been stated essentially every week that the Houston Rockets expect to make a push for Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden this offseason. The Rockets have north of $60 million in cap space and have a dire need at the point guard spot, and it just so happens that the league's assist leader could hit free agency this summer.

As a matter of fact, Harden's best financial move would be to opt-out of a two-year deal he inked with the Sixers last offseason, as the final year is slated to pay him just $35.6 million, a significantly lower annual number than what Harden would get in a max deal, which would pay him $50 million per year. For this reason, many have long expected the Rockets to land their guy, as they'd be willing to overpay to bring back a franchise legend who could help them compete for a play-in berth.

But Harden leaving the Sixers shouldn't be viewed as a sure thing, and especially after Tuesday's news that the franchise was dismissing head coach Doc Rivers, who Harden reportedly clashed with, as the two had different philosophical views. Harden and his long-time Rockets running mate, Daryl Morey, who is the President of Basketball Operations in Philly, inherited Rivers. So it's not surprising that there was dissension with the 61-year-old coach.

How Doc Rivers' firing could halt a Rockets reunion with James Harden

Not only would the Sixers' dismissal of Rivers be appealing for Harden, but their replacement options for Rivers also will certainly get Harden's attention, most notably Mike D'Antoni, the former Rockets head coach, who is oftentimes credited with Harden's success. Under D'Antoni, Harden became a three-time scoring champion and four-time MVP finalist.

D'Antoni's isolation-heavy offense unlocked Harden by allowing him to get buckets and use his gravity to set up his teammates for open looks, in addition to putting the ball in his hands more. D'Antoni also has a lax approach, which is parallel with his laid-back demeanor. This allowed Harden to maintain his celebrity lifestyle off the court, as D'Antoni cared most about Harden's production on the court.

But even if the Sixers don't hire D'Antoni, the fact that the parted ways with someone who Harden wasn't fond of means they'll surely seek he and Joel Embiid's input on their next hire. And if they're willing to do that, they're likely willing to give Harden what he desires financially.

All of this could put a damper in the Rockets' chances of reeling in their guy.