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Report: Harden intends to decline player option, pursue long-term deal

Nathaniel S. Butler / National Basketball Association / Getty

Philadelphia 76ers star James Harden intends to decline his $35.6-million player option and pursue a long-term deal as an unrestricted free agent, sources told Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report.

Harden will only consider teams with competitive rosters, Haynes adds.

The 10-time All-Star declined a $47.4-million player option last summer to re-sign with the 76ers on a deal that paid him $33 million this season.

Harden has been linked to his former team, the Houston Rockets. The Rockets intend to pursue him in free agency and are a "very real possibility" as a landing spot, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

The 33-year-old Harden starred in Houston for eight seasons, making All-Star appearances in each campaign and winning MVP in 2019. He requested a trade early in the 2020-21 season and was dealt to the Brooklyn Nets, who sent him to Philadelphia the following year.

The Rockets finished with a bottom-three record in each of the last three seasons. They have the No. 4 pick in the 2023 draft and could have close to $60 million in cap space to sign free agents, according to ESPN's Bobby Marks.

Harden averaged 21 points, 10.7 assists, and 6.1 rebounds this season. Philadelphia was eliminated in the second round for the second straight postseason since acquiring him.

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