James Harden's free agency is one of the biggest storylines of the 2023 NBA offseason. The Philadelphia 76ers and Houston Rockets are fighting over him, with recent rumors suggesting that it's a toss-up between the two sides. But there's a dark horse in the race: the Phoenix Suns.

Reports leading up to this point have primarily mentioned the Sixers and Rockets as Harden's most likely suitors. But a third team has been lurking and will soon have a vacancy at point guard. The Suns are set to move on from Chris Paul, likely waiving him. The decision suggests that they could have a solid backup plan in his place, per Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. Although there are only whispers at this point, it's an interesting possibility to consider.

“They don't do that unless they feel pretty good about somebody else,” Shelburne said, referring to the Suns' decision to part ways with Paul. “And I want you to keep your eye on James Harden. I don’t want to report anything but that was in the wind for the past month or so. Everybody thinks it’s like Philly or Houston but I don’t know, there have been discussions in the wind.”

The Rockets are eager to get Harden to return in order to help them escape the bottom of the NBA's standings. A return home has been appealing to him. The Sixers want to remain a title-caliber team and don't have many options to replace him. They represent a chance to compete for the grand prize, which Harden has claimed to desire greatly. It's ultimately up to Harden, but going to the Suns — a place he has very little familiarity with – would be way out of left field.

The Suns were linked to James Harden roughly a month ago but the biggest tea leaves have pointed to either the Sixers or the Rockets. Phoenix would be an appealing destination to compete with Devin Booker and Kevin Durant there. Harden has experience playing with Durant on the Brooklyn Nets and their time together ended poorly and abruptly, but as Shelburne notes, that's all water under the bridge for them. What Harden ends up doing this summer will be fascinating to see.