76ers interested in bringing James Harden back, says Daryl Morey

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Philadelphia 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey is interested in having James Harden back in a Sixers uniform.

The former league MVP, however, reportedly is planning to decline his player option and become an unrestricted free agent.

Morey spoke to the media on Wednesday, one day after the team fired Doc Rivers as coach, and said Harden could return.

“We are interested in bringing him back,” Morey said.

Harden has a $35.6million player option for the 2023-24 season, and the 76ers can offer the 2017-18 league MVP a $210million, four-year deal - $8million more than any other team.

However, Harden intends to move on from the 76ers and become a free agent, according to Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report.

“We have to plan for every scenario,” Morey said. “He has the option to be a free agent, and so we have to plan for all those scenarios. We feel like (Harden leaving) is a scenario where we can continue to move forward.”

Acquired in a trade with the Brooklyn Nets in February 2022, Harden was a solid complement to league MVP Joel Embiid, averaging 21.0 points and 10.7 assists in the regular season to help the 76ers to the third-best record in the Eastern Conference.

In the playoffs, however, the 33-year-old Harden was maddeningly inconsistent.

He had a pair of 40-point performances but averaged just 15.1 points on 30.0 per cent shooting with 8.4 assists in his other nine games.

The 10-time All-Star reportedly wants a four-year deal with a team that has a competitive roster.

Morey feels that the 76ers have that competitive roster that Harden desires.

“Look, we have to remember there’s like 26 teams that would rather have our roster,” he said.

“We’re starting with the MVP of the league. The draft lottery yesterday was hoping to get a top pick to hope that player becomes as good as the MVP of the league.

"So we’re starting in a great spot and yeah, we have a lot of free agents, so we’re going to lose some free agents. There’s some key ones we’d like to bring back. But we feel good about the alternate scenarios as well.

“Scenario A would be to bring James back. Scenario B, if he’s not back, will be we’ll have to get creative. And we feel good about the tools available to us if that happens.”