NBA Rumors: "70% Chance" James Harden Returns To Old Team Next Season

Philadelphia 76ers' star James Harden has a player option after this season, and there's some serious chatter that he'll be using it to head back out on the market. 

In fact, it raised a few eyebrows earlier this season when word started circulating that Harden would like to return to his old stomping grounds with the Houston Rockets. But team insider Kelly Iko of The Athletic thinks that's more likely than not to actually happen.

"I'm putting it at a 7 out of 10. I think, where there's smoke there's fire. James loves the city, he loves those young guys on the Houston roster. He has ties to the city's businesses, and his home is here. 

"Crazier things have happened. Don't call me crazy, but... you might be seeing something different."

Harden, 33, would certainly change the complexion of the Rockets, whose current starting lineup averages less than 21 years of age

The 10-time All-Star took a "pay cut" to sign with the Sixers this past offseason, in hopes they could build a roster to take them to the Finals, but there's every chance he decides to head back to the scene of his greatest seasons. Eight of his 10 All-Star selections came while he was a Rocket. He averaged 29.6 in his 8+ seasons there, leading the league in scoring three times. 

This year with Philly, The Beard is averaging 21.4 points, a league-heading 10.8 assists, and 6.2 rebounds. 

Photo: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports