Spurs free agency: James Harden, really?

San Antonio Spurs, Devin Vassell
San Antonio Spurs, Devin Vassell / Elsa/GettyImages

As the San Antonio Spurs continue their rebuild, fans are mostly in tune with NBA Draft prospects, as the team seems hell-bent on building the right way through the draft. That being said, the Spurs are over $24 million under the cap and could sign a big-name, flashy, All-Star free agent in the offseason to propel them forward and put some extra ticks in the wins column. 

The upcoming free agent class is lackluster. Russell Westbrook, Kris Middleton, and Kristaps Prozingis stand out, but none of them fit the Spurs’ timeline or make sense on the current roster. 

Spurs: Frontrunners to land James Harden?

Jeff Garcia over at Kens5 reported that the Vegas oddsmakers currently have the Spurs have 10:1 odds at landing James Harden. Those are the eighth-best odds in the league, and it’s mostly because the Spurs have the money to pay him. 

This season, Harden commands $33 million in salary from the 76ers and can opt into next season and get a small raise. Of course, he could opt out and test the free agency waters this summer and has been linked to a return to Houston, or he could go elsewhere.

The Spurs are included in the Harden talk just because they could offer him a big-time payday. Harden is perhaps one of the least Spurs-y players ever. Lackluster defense, stat-padding, reliance on free throws, and a “me first” playstyle would not be cohesive with the team the Spurs are working to build. 

James Harden would be detrimental to a rebuild

Of course, the Rockets are young and looking to build around Jalen Green, but since Harden is a Houston legend, he could be brought back as a move to please fans. San Antonio should not be worried about Harden playing for the Silver and Black. That partnership could very well end with Gregg Popovich getting arrested. 

Even if Harden fits a role in San Antonio, I’m not convinced that the Spurs should shell out for a free agent. A top rookie talent will round out the starting lineup of Sochan, Johnson, Vassell, and Jones, and Poeltl could stay on the bench or start the season with the starting five if the Spurs don’t deal him away. Adding a “win now” player two years before the Spurs are in win-now mode makes zero sense.

On top of that, I doubt Harden wants to come to San Antonio. Sure, he’ll get paid, but he is not a system player, and the one thing he’s missing is a championship. Surely he would want to run it back with Embiid or sign with a different contender? A homecoming to Houston or even Oklahoma City makes more sense than joining the Spurs. 

Next. Grading a proposed Warriors, Jazz, and Spurs 3-team trade for Poeltl. dark

At this point in the season, the rumor mill churns out some crazy things, and fans should be aware that not all the reports and links are correct, but Vegas isn’t wrong that often.