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Victor Wembanyama is with the San Antonio Spurs, Bradley Beal is headed to the Phoenix Suns and several draft prospects found out about their new teams on Thursday, but the blockbuster moves are far from over this NBA offseason.
While there has been a lot of focus on the Damian Lillard rumors, there are two other future Hall of Fame guards who will have to make decisions in the coming days and weeks as well.
James Harden has a $35.6 million player option for the 2023-24 campaign and is considering a return to the Philadelphia 76ers or free agency. And former teammate Kyrie Irving is set for unrestricted free agency and would represent a major addition for any team that signs him.
Here are some possible landing spots:
- Philadelphia 76ers
- Houston Rockets
- Dallas Mavericks
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Houston Rockets
- Miami Heat
The Harden situation seems pretty straightforward at this point.
Kyle Neubeck on Philly’s voice reported Tuesday that it “seems more likely” the 10-time All-Star will return to the 76ers “in a team-friendly deal.”
The report comes shortly after ESPN’s Zach Lowe suggested on his podcast that a reunion would be in order, especially since Philadelphia moved on from head coach Doc Rivers this offseason (h/t RealGM).
“The breaks are now being bombarded, like beaten, around the league to the point that I bet if you polled 50 front-office executives, most of them would expect him to come back to Philly,” Lowe said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. See you later.”
However, the Houston Rockets have been hiding for months.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported in December that Harden was “seriously considering a return” to his former franchise, adding that he “maintains something of a magnetic pull to Houston, drawn to the community, lifestyle and family there.” .”
Neubeck also called the Rockets “Harden’s biggest suitor outside of Philadelphia,” though he noted that “the indication is that they’re not willing to go over the years or dollars to sign him specifically.”
Perhaps the Suns will be a landing spot for Harden before they trade for Beal, which means it’s increasingly looking like his only two realistic destinations are the 76ers and Rockets.
Philadelphia will give him a better chance to compete for his first championship and build chemistry with reigning MVP Joel Embiid, and that’s where the momentum is trending.
As for Irving, there may not be many options for him either.
NBA reporter Marc Stein wrote Sunday that the Mavericks “appear to be the only confirmed bidder for Irving’s services.”
Wojnarowski said during Thursday’s coverage of the NBA draft that “re-signing Kyrie Irving is the most important thing” for the Mavericks. “They gave up significant assets for him a year after New York lost Jalen Brunson in free agency.”
Like Harden, Phoenix would have been a realistic destination before it acquired Beal because it would give him a chance to reunite with former teammate Kevin Durant.
Maybe he will look to get back with another former teammate of LeBron James because there have been many discussions about their desire to play again after winning a championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
However, the point guard will surely take a big discount to join the Los Angeles Lakers, especially since they can focus more on bringing back Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura.
There’s also a world where Irving could be a backup plan for a team like the Rockets if they can’t get Harden or the Miami Heat if they don’t trade Lillard. Bleacher Report Chris Haynes Miami is reportedly focused on Lillard, but Irving isn’t a bad consolation prize as an eight-time All-Star.
All signs point to Irving returning to play alongside Luka Dončić at the Mavericks, and they will look to make significant strides ahead in the 2023-24 campaign after falling out of the playoffs and play-in tournament. the whole time.