Following the Philadelphia 76ers’ second-round defeat to the Boston Celtics after blowing a 3-2 lead, president Daryl Morey announced the firing of head coach Doc Rivers. Those close to Rivers, though, feel James Harden had a hand in the move, according to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports.
“Several members of Rivers’ staff, sources said, have pointed to All-Star point guard James Harden as a driving force behind Rivers’ departure,” Fischer wrote.
Morey said that Rivers’ firing surprised star Joel Embiid, implying that the team did not contact the MVP beforehand. If the Sixers decide to sit Embiid and let Harden dominate the play, it might be a preview of things to come in Philly.
What makes matters worse is that Harden is expected to decline his player option for 2023-24 and is seeking a four-year deal on a “competitive roster.”
Morey, who has known Harden since trading for him from OKC Thunder to the Houston Rockets, said this week that bringing Harden back on a long-term contract was “Scenario A” for the Sixers.
Aside from the 76ers, the Rockets are the second favorite to sign Harden to a long-term contract. ESPN first reported in December 2022 that the former MVP might be interested in returning to the organization where he spent nine seasons. The Athletic reported in March that Harden would seriously explore leaving Houston in free agency.
This past season, Harden accepted a huge pay cut to help Philadelphia put together a championship-caliber group, but the team was defeated in seven games by the Celtics in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Now, the 33-year-old will be looking to cash in after averaging 21 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 10.7 assists in his 14th NBA season.
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