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James Harden would love for Kevin Durant to re-join him in Houston

Reunited in Rockets uniforms? (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

For his first three NBA seasons, James Harden was a teammate of Kevin Durant’s in Oklahoma City. Now the high-scoring guard wants to reunite with the equally prolific forward — this time in Houston.

Harden was recently asked by a Rockets teammate, Jason Terry, on SiriusXM NBA Radio to name his No. 1 free-agent target. “Durantula,” Harden replied with a chuckle.

Durant says he needs some time before thinking about free agency

Durant is set to become a free agent, and several players on other teams, including the Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas and the 76ers’ Joel Embiid, have already begun recruiting him. Harden may have an edge in that battle, because he and Durant are believed to still have a close friendship; before a March 22 Rockets-Thunder game, Harden hugged the 2014 MVP’s mom, Wanda Pratt, at midcourt.

Terry said that he had already made his “recruiting pitch,” but then he “reneged” and called the Spurs “a better fit” for Durant, adding that San Antonio would be the place for the sharpshooter “if he wants to get a ring.” (Give the veteran guard credit for putting aside the fact that he was most recently on the Rockets roster and issuing an objective opinion in his role as radio host. Terry was on a one-year deal with Houston this season and has yet to decide whether he will retire, though he interviewed for a job coaching UAB this spring.)

“San Antonio has a lot of good players,” Harden replied. “Obviously, Kevin is a three [small forward] and they’ve got Kawhi Leonard over there, so I don’t know about that. But I mean, Kevin is a smart guy, he had a really good season. Obviously, it didn’t turn out the way he wanted to, but ultimately he’ll make the best decision for himself and his family. So we’ve just got to sit back and relax and wait.”

Rockets’ success hinges on what a new coach can get from Harden

Harden is correct that the Spurs already have a terrific player in Leonard at Durant’s preferred position, but Gregg Popovich could surely figure out a way to get both on the floor, especially in today’s small-ball game. Meanwhile, the Rockets could certainly stand an upgrade at the three, which was largely manned this season by Trevor Ariza, who posted a sub-par 12.9 player efficiency rating (per Basketball Reference).

Of course, all this talk of Durant’s destination would be rendered moot if he, as many expect, returns to Oklahoma City, possibly on a deal that lets him re-enter free agency next year. But that hasn’t stopped him from topping the wish lists of plenty of players who would love to go from Durant’s opponents to his teammates.